EmpowHER has spoken a lot about the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (known as the DSM) that is due out in three years. Every new manual causes a stir, with new disorders put in (certain addictions, for example) and others removed (like homosexuality). The manual is currently on its fourth edition. The manual of 2013 will be its fifth.
What is the DSM? It’s a comprehensive manual that takes years to review. Well qualified and peer-reviewed psychiatrists go through every possible mental disorder and evaluate what can legitimately be considered a mental illness and what can’t. Changes are needed when newly discovered disorders come to light or old ones are no longer considered legitimate.
Why is the DSM so important? Long considered the ‘bible’ for the world of psychiatry, a person must fit certain criteria (signs, symptoms, behaviors, etc.) to be diagnosed, just like any other disease or disorder. Otherwise, no one would be clear on exactly how to diagnose a patient and therefore treatment would be ineffective. This manual is also of great importance because insurance companies use it when considering its coverage of mental disorders/illnesses.
Another mental disorder is now being recommended for addition to the DSM - and that mental disorder is binge eating. Binge eating by humans is explained as when a person eats copious amounts of food (often alone) even when not hungry – and often until the person feels physically sick. It is common for depression or feelings of self-loathing to set in after a binge. But not long after, the binging begins again, continuing the never-ending cycle of eating that causes so many damaging mental and physical conditions.
The current DSM does not single out binge eating as a specific order but if the recommendations are accepted, it will.
So we’re left to wonder why anyone would binge eat? Why would someone buy three Big Mac meals and eat them in their car, and then buy another two Whopper meals, along with milkshakes and desserts and eat those minutes later? And then he or she might go home and two hours later consume a never-ending meal containing thousands of other calories?