The following article is a part of conference coverage from the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) 34th Annual Conference, held online from September 30 to October 4, 2020. The team at the Clinical Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading nurses in psychiatry. Check back for more from APNA 2020.


A majority of patients with binge eating disorder (BED) never receive appropriate treatment, despite existing evidence that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective, according to a poster presented at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) 34th Annual Conference, held online from September 30th to October 4th, 2020.

Patients with BED can be of any weight and are more likely to be women (60% vs 40% for men), reported Paula Baisden, EdD, MSN-Ed, PMHRN-BC, lecturer at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Between 1 and 2 million US adults (2.8% of the population) will develop BED at some point in their lifetime. Genetic factors can make some people more susceptible to the disorder. Depressive symptoms are common, with one-third of people with BED diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

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There are many common myths about BED, said Dr Baisden, who is currently pursuing her DNP after working with patients who have eating disorders for more than a decade as a psychiatric mental health nurse. One myth is that BED is strictly emotional eating, which Dr Baisden stated is “a symptom, not a disorder.” Other myths include that the disorder is limited by gender or age, that the disorder is temporary, rare, or can be ignored without putting the patient at risk, or that BED is defined simply by overeating sporadically, even when due to stress.

Dr Baisden notes that there are opportunities to improve education, policies, and protocols so that BED is taken more seriously and is less likely to be misdiagnosed or left untreated. The goal of treatment is to restore and maintain a healthy weight, reduce thoughts and behaviors that lead to binging, and prevent relapse.

A majority (57% of patients) with BED never receive any form of treatment; therapies for the condition include nutritional counseling, medications (antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers), individual, group, or family psychotherapy, medical care and monitoring, and CBT, which eliminates BED symptoms in 30% to 50% of cases. CBT is proven to be more effective than other treatment options, including stress management, antidepressants, and placebo medication, she added.

“Further research and, more importantly, spreading education on what BED truly is and is not, and how seriously it should be considered and managed, is essential to improve the health and well-being of the nation physically and mentally,” Dr Baisden concluded.

Visit Clinical Advisor’s meetings section for complete coverage of APNA 2020.


Baisden P. BED head: what binge eating disorder is and what isn’t. Presented virtually at: APNA 34th Annual Conference; September 30-October 4. Poster 50.