Binge Eating Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a serious and potentially life-threatening mental illness that causes individuals to binge eat without being able to stop themselves.

Learning about this mental health issue can help give insight into its causes and treatment options available for people dealing with it. This blog post will cover everything there is to know about binge eating disorder from an overview of what it is and what symptoms look like, to potential triggers and prevention tactics. Eating disorders and depression demonstrate the impact of mental illness on mental health.

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a serious mental health condition that affects many people. It is characterized by compulsive overeating, followed by feelings of guilt and shame. People with BED often have an unhealthy relationship with food, which can lead to weight gain, depression, and other physical and mental health issues. It is important to understand the warning signs of BED so that those affected can get the help they need.

Binge eating disorder is characterized by episodes of uncontrolled, compulsive eating. During a binge, a person will eat an excessive amount of food in a short period of time. They may feel like they can’t control their eating and are powerless to stop. Binge eating episodes are often followed by feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment. Eating disorder is more common in women than in men.

Binge eating disorder is different from overeating or simply having an unhealthy relationship with food. Overeating occasionally is not a cause for concern, but people with binge eating disorder feel like they cannot control their eating habits. Binge eating disorder is also different from bulimia nervosa, another type of eating disorder, in that people with bulimia nervosa typically purge the food they’ve eaten during a binge by vomiting or using laxatives.

It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms

The most common symptom of BED is compulsive overeating. This means eating much more food than necessary in a short period of time, usually accompanied by a feeling of loss of control. Other symptoms include feeling guilty or ashamed after eating, using food to cope with stress or emotions, eating alone or hiding food from others, and feeling depressed or anxious about body image.

Behavioural Symptoms

If someone is developing a binge eating disorder, changes in behavior are noticeable.

  • Buying lots of food.
  • Hoarding food.
  • Eating very rapidly.
  • Avoiding eating around others.
  • Irritability.
  • Mood swings.

Psychological Symptoms

Binge eating disorder is a mental illness, psychological symptoms are felt before the physical symptoms become evident.

  • Feeling out of control with food or loss of control over eating.
  • Low confidence and self-esteem.
  • Other mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety.

Physical Symptoms

There are several physical consequences associated with binge eating disorder

  • Tiredness
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Other stomach problems
  • Poor skin condition

Long Term Effects

Binge eating disorder can have long-term physical effects, some of which may be permanent.

  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Damage to the esophagus and stomach
  • Sleep apnoea

Binge eating disorder may be fatal if not treated in time. However, many of the effects of binge eating disorder are reversible or can be prevented from worsening.

If you think you may have an Eating Disorder, take this self-test from the National Eating Disorder Association.

What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?

There is no single cause of binge eating disorder. Rather, it is thought to be the result of a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors. People with certain personality traits such as perfectionism, impulsivity, and anxiety—may be more likely to develop binge eating disorder.

Certain life events or stressors such as trauma, abuse, or the death of a loved one can also trigger an episode of binge eating. And people who have close relatives with binge eating disorder or another type of mental illness may be more likely to develop the condition themselves.

What are the Effects of Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder can have serious consequences on a person’s physical and mental health. Physically, it can lead to obesity and put a person at risk for developing other health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Mentally, binge eating disorder can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. It can also lead to depression and anxiety.

If you think you or someone you know may have a binge eating disorder, it’s important to seek professional help. Treatment for binge eating disorder typically includes some form of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), as well as medication if necessary. With treatment, people with binge eating disorder can learn how to manage their condition and live healthy lives.

How is a binge different to overeating?

It can be difficult to distinguish between normal overeating and binge eating disorder. Overeating occasionally is normal; it’s when it becomes frequent that it can become an issue. The main difference between normal overeating and BED is the feelings associated with it- those affected by BED feel out of control when it comes to their eating patterns and feels guilty afterward for having eaten too much food. With this in mind, there are several steps one can take to help manage their binge eating habits before it spirals out of control:

  • Eat regular meals throughout the day instead of skipping meals.
  • Keep snacks on hand so you don’t get overly hungry and end up binging.
  • Avoid dieting as this could trigger binge eating behaviors.
  • Find healthy ways to cope with stress such as exercise or talking to someone.
  • Speak to your doctor if you start noticing any signs or symptoms of BED.

Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

Binge eating disorder treatment begins with a comprehensive evaluation from a healthcare professional to understand the individual’s needs, triggers for binge-eating episodes, and the frequency of the episodes. Treatment plans can include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, nutritional counseling, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications such as exercise.

BED treatments are personalized based on each individual’s goals and need to help reduce symptoms and prevent relapses into unhealthy eating patterns. With successful BED treatment, individuals can reach their health goals while also improving their sense of well-being and quality of life.

Eating disorders in children are more easily treated than in adults.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

It is the most effective treatment for BED and may be done with a therapist or in a self-help format. Focuses on analyzing the Relationships between negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to eating, body shape, and weight. Including setting goals, changing thoughts about self and weight, and encouraging healthy weight-control habits.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

In interpersonal psychotherapy, the goal is to identify the specific problem linked to the negative eating behavior, acknowledge it, and then make constructive changes over 12–16 weeks. It is the only other therapy with long-term outcomes as good as CBT.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) teaches people to regulate their emotional responses so that they can cope with negative situations in daily life without binging.


No current medications are as effective at treating BED as behavioral therapies. Treatments include antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs like topiramate, and drugs traditionally used for hyperactive disorders, such as lisdexamfetamine. Side effects of treatment may include headaches, stomach problems, sleep disturbances, increased blood pressure, and anxiety

Frequently Asked Questions Bbout Binge Eating Disorder

  • Binge eating disorder who does it affect the most?

    People with binge eating disorder often feel out of control during binges and eat large amounts of food even when they’re not hungry.

    Binge eating disorder affects people of all genders, ages, and body weights, but it’s more common in women and young people.

  • How to get help for binge eating disorder?

    If you’re looking for help with binge eating disorder, the best place to start is by talking to your doctor. They can refer you to a therapist or nutritionist who can help you get your binge eating under control. It’s important to seek professional help if you’re struggling with binge eating, as it can be a difficult habit to break on your own. There are also many online support groups and communities where you can find encouragement and advice from others who are dealing with the same struggles.

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Source National Eating Disorders Wikipedia

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