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In addition to this stress/food connection, serious bouts of depression are much more prevalent in people with binge-eating disorder. It is not known whether depression is a cause or an effect of binge eating but it can be a significant factor in triggering compulsive overeating.
Betty, a 60-year-old divorced photographer from Boston, suffered from episodes of depression most of her life. Her depression was cyclical, occurring once or twice a year and lasting for several weeks. She had seen a psychiatrist off and on for several years and was taking antidepressant medication. The medication and periodic therapy were helpful, and although her depressive episodes continued, they were less severe.
For the past three years her depression would begin in January and last until spring. Because of this she was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern Specifier (sometimes referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder). During these times she felt little energy and would sleep for hours on end. She felt sad and worthless and derived little pleasure from anything in life. She intensely craved carbohydrates and would often gain 20 to 30 pounds during the winter season.
Food was the only thing that would give her pleasure and, at least, momentary relief from depression. Her overeating as well as her weight gain made her feel guilty and even more worthless than she already felt.
If you suffer from cycles of depression whether mild or severe, they will interfere with your attempts to control your binge eating. Often, professional treatment for depression must go hand in hand with treatment for binge-eating disorder. Actually, some antidepressant medications have been found to alleviate depression and reduce cravings, especially for sweets.
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