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 involve purging.
In other cases, binging can happen without other eating disorders. For example, the person may feel upset about binging, 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.
Factors that may increase your risk of developing a binge eating disorder include:
Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:
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 six 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.
In interpersonal psychotherapy, a counselor will help you look at your personal relationships and make changes in areas that are negatively affecting your life.
Mental Health America
Something Fishy: Website on Eating Disorders
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 August 1, 2013.
Binge eating disorder. Nemours KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/problems/binge_eating.html#a_Getting_Help. Updated August 2011. Accessed August 1, 2013.
Binge eating disorder. Weight-control Information Network website. Available at: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/binge.htm. Updated December 2012. Accessed August 1, 2013.
Last reviewed August 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD; 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.