Binge Eating Disorder
A person with binge eating disorder often eats an unusually large amount of food and feels that eating is out of control. Binge eating disorder often occurs with bulimia nervosa, another eating disorder that may also involve purging.
In others, binge eating can happen without other eating disorders. For example, the person may feel upset about binge eating, but may not try to undo these feelings by vomiting, exercising, or taking laxatives.
It is not clear exactly what causes binge eating disorder. Since about half of people with binge eating disorder have a history of depression, it may be related to that condition. Studies also suggest that people with binge eating disorder may have other emotional problems, including low self-esteem, anger, and/or obsessive compulsive behavior.
Binge eating disorder is more common in women. Other factors that may increase your chance of binge eating disorder include:
Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:
- Eating quickly
- Eating until you are uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts when you are not hungry
- Eating alone due to embarrassment
- Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after eating
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a mental health professional or eating disorder specialist. Binge eating is diagnosed when there are an average of at least two binge-eating episodes a week for 6 months, along with a lack of control over eating behavior.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
In cognitive-behavioral therapy, a mental health professional will teach you how to keep track of your eating and change your unhealthy eating habits. This may involve learning how to respond to tough situations and how to feel better about your body shape and weight.
Physical therapy may help to reduce depression associated with binge eating disorder. Therapy options may include yoga or aerobic exercise.
In interpersonal psychotherapy, a counselor will help you look at your personal relationships and make changes in areas that are negatively affecting your life.
There is no known way to prevent binge eating disorder. If you have young children, however, it is important to display positive and healthy attitudes about eating and body image.
Mental Health America
Canadian Mental Health Association
National Eating Disorder Information Centre
Binge eating disorder. National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders website. Available at: http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder. Accessed May 20, 2014.
Binge eating disorder. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/problems/binge_eating.html. Updated August 2011. Accessed May 20, 2014.
Binge eating disorder. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/binge_eating/Pages/binge-eating-disorder.aspx. Updated October 25, 2013. Accessed May 20, 2014.
Vancampfort D, Vanderlinden J, De Hert M, et al. A systematic review on physical therapy interventions for patients with binge eating disorder. Disabil Rehabil. 2013;35(26):2191-2196.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.