Food can be a comfort, according to an article on Today Online; but problems arise when food becomes an emotional crutch, the only source of solace in times of stress. In some cases, emotional eating can actually take over your life.

The Beginning of a Habit

Ms. Loh knows the dangers of overeating all too well. As a teen, she did not have close friends or family members whom she could talk to when things were going wrong. When she felt sad or angry, she resorted to food as a form of comfort, rather than human companionship. She would eat snacks constantly until she felt physically ill.

“No one was willing to listen to me without passing judgment, and I felt very angry,” she says. “Binge-eating was a shield to my anger. It took away my anguish for a short while.”

The Slide into Severe Addiction

After years of turning to food to cope with life, Ms. Loh’s mental and emotional health began to deteriorate. She was binge-eating more and more often. She ate so much food that she was spending a lot of money on snacks and meals. In fact, every cent she earned was swallowed up by her addiction to food.

Sometimes, Ms. Loh could not afford extra ingredients, so she would upsize her rice portion instead. If her mother left money around, she used it for the foods she craved, including pizza. In one sitting, she would consume much more food than the average person; yet she felt a loss of control during the eating session, a compulsion to keep consuming more.

In the span of 2 years, Ms. Loh doubled her weight, going from 60kg to about 120kg. She was also struggling with guilt, depression, and symptoms of bipolar disorder, including dramatic mood swings. Finally, Ms. Loh found help with a Singapore psychiatrist. She was treated at the Singapore General Hospital for several years for her binge-eating disorder and related mental health issues.

The Disorder of Binge-Eating

Dr. Victor Kwok, a psychiatrist in Singapore, explains that for binge-eating to be labelled as a disorder, it must involve large quantities of food and occur once a week or more for at least three months. In Ms. Loh’s case, the description fit perfectly.

The head of Singapore General Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Lee Huei Yen, says that binge-eating is a difficult disorder to detect and diagnose. “Most people may not think of it as an eating disorder, and may attribute it to a bad habit of overeating,” Dr. Lee explains. “In the past, it fell into the category of ‘Eating disorder not otherwise specified’. Patients would probably seek help from weight management or obesity clinics rather than an eating disorder clinic.”

The Importance of Treatment with a Singapore Psychiatrist

Today, awareness for the disorder is increasing, as people recognise that it involves elements of compulsion and addiction that the sufferer cannot control without help. The disorder is also linked to depression in Singapore, which is why effective mental health treatment is so crucial to recovery.

Individuals who have suffered from bullying and abuse as children or teens are more vulnerable to depression and food addiction. Thankfully, there is a way to conquer the disorder through treatment, therapy, and counselling. If you recognise the possible symptoms of binge-eating disorder, bulimia, anorexia, or some other food-related disorder in yourself or someone else, take action and seek help. At Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, we have a caring staff of highly qualified Singapore psychologists and psychiatrists who are ready to help you deal with underlying emotional issues and establish a healthier relationship with food.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Today Online, January 31, 2017