As a therapist who accepts payment through medical insurance, I am constantly labeling people with various mental health and substance abuse diagnoses for the sake of reimbursement.
And I hate it.
I absolutely hate diagnosing people. Not that I don’t think there is a place for it in some situations, like say, in a hospital. But by and large, the majority of difficulties that my clients experience are symptoms of situations and environment.
I mean, how can I give a diagnosis to a women who is struggling to emotionally process her fertility treatments? Or a newly-sober client who is grappling with relationship fallout from their addiction?
So, you can imagine my angst when I watch television and see these commercials that are “introducing” new diagnoses.
Case in point? Binge Eating Disorder.
Have you seen this commercial?? It features the usual spiel about it being a “real medical condition” and the lovely (albeit somewhat irrelevant) tennis star, Monica Seles talking about her experience with B.E.D.
Yep, it even has an acronym.
Move over OCD – there’s a newbie in town.
Evidently, this new disorder was fraught with controversy well before it even caught my attention. It has been found that Shire, the pharmaceutical mogul that produces Vyvanse (an amphetamine-based medication geared towards ADHD), coined the term “binge eating disorder” to market and push Vyvanse as a treatment.
Am I the only one that thinks this is shady and self-serving?
Aside from Shire-gate, my real gripe is this: I do believe Binge Eating is a real problem for some. But, from my perspective it is a SYMPTOM of a larger issue. My feeling is that, like other eating disorders (i.e. anorexia and bulimia), binge eating is a by-product of a bigger, convoluted web of low self-esteem, negative core beliefs about one’s self, and a feeling of lack of control over one’s life. I would group binge eating (and other eating disorders, for that matter) into the realm of an anxiety-driven issue. Therefore, it should be treated as such, meaning a side effect of a larger issue. Not a standalone disorder. The problem with medicating for the side effect means when the medication is taken away, the reasons that created the anxiety in the first place still exist.
But, leave it to the almighty medical and pharmaceutical community to make something that can be treated by addressing the core issue rather than just the symptom into a disorder. But that’s a fight that’s much bigger than me.
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