BED and Research – What Do We Know About Long Term Recovery?

Girl in Red Dress working on long term binge eating disorder recovery

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

When it comes to binge eating, there are often many misunderstanding about what exactly this disorder involves. Sadly, many people oversimplify binge eating to be nothing more than a lack of self-will and control when it comes to food.

However, individuals who struggle with binge eating are driven to engage in recurring binging behaviors, even in the face of potentially adverse consequences.

Many individuals who may be struggling with binge eating disorder may feel out of control when it comes to food and eating yet feel powerless in knowing how to change or stop their behaviors. Fortunately, with specialized help and professional intervention, binge eating disorder can be effectively treated, allowing a person who may be struggling to find help and healing for the long term.

Effectiveness of Eating Disorder Treatment

Because eating disorders, like binge eating disorder, are chronic diseases based on the many underlying factors, there must be an ongoing effort to maintain recovery, especially for the long-term. While recovery efforts may change the longer a person is able to sustain recovery, abstinence from binging behaviors can occur with appropriate treatment interventions.

Woman working on movement therapy for binge eating disorderResearch has demonstrated that effective forms of treatment for binge eating disorder include the combination of psychotherapy and medication management [1].

Psychotherapy involves individual counseling that couples behavioral and cognitive therapy to help address any underlying psychological issues.

Forms of psychotherapy that may be integrated include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

Medication may also serve an important role in binge eating recovery in that it can help address some of the neurochemical imbalances in the brain that may contribute to binge eating behaviors. Medication may also be useful in managing underlying mental illnesses that could be exacerbating binge-eating behaviors, including anxiety or depression.

Binge Eating Treatment For Long Term Recovery

With the inclusion of binge eating disorder as a diagnosable eating disorder in the most recent revision of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the impact and effectiveness of treatment for BED for long term recovery is still being researched and understood.

The long term prognosis for binge eating disorder is dependent on many different factors, including the existence of any medical complications or concurrent mental health disorders, timing of eating disorder intervention, and the types of professional treatment that are being utilized for binge eating disorder.

Research has also demonstrated that the length and type of treatment could influence the overall prognosis of those who are struggling with binge eating disorder. Overall, individuals seeking out intensive therapy and treatment for binge eating disorder tend to have an improved prognosis for recovery over a long period of time, which is often measured in a decrease in frequency and severity of the binging behaviors [2].

Working Towards Solutions

Woman running toward binge eating disorder solutionThe long term prognosis and effectiveness of treatment methods for binge eating disorder continues to be researched and better understood.

This does not mean that it is not possible for a person with binge eating disorder to have a long-term remission from binging behaviors or that recovery cannot be sustained for the long run.

As with any eating disorder, treatment for binge eating disorder should be highly individualized based on the unique needs a person may be experiencing. S

ince binge eating disorder results and develops from multiple different factors and influences, it is crucial that treatment is approach in a manner that addresses the unique aspects a person is dealing with.

If you or someone you care for has been struggling with binge eating disorder, it is important to know that there is hope for your recovery, no matter how long you may have been suffering with this illness.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to connect with professionals as soon as possible, who can better help you address your concerns with specialized interventions. Talk with someone you trust about your concerns, and know that there is hope for healing to improve your life for the short and long term.

Community Discussion – Share Your Thoughts Here!

What aspects of eating disorder treatment for binge eating disorder do you think would be most beneficial for long-term recovery?


[1]: DeAngelis, Tory, “Binge Eating Disorder: What’s the best treatment?”, American Psychological Association.

[2]: Fairburn, Christopher G., et. Al. The Natural Course of Bulimia Nervosa and binge Eating Disorder in Young Women. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2000;57(7): 659-665.

Crystal Karges photo

About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating.

Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 22, 2016
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