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Definition

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.

Causes

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 .

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of developing a binge eating disorder include:

  • Obesity
  • Gender: women
  • Becoming overweight at a young age
  • Yo-yo dieting
  • History of depression and/or substance abuse
  • History of sexual abuse
  • Excess concern with body shape

Female Figure

Female figure 3D

Binge eating disorder is more common in females and is often linked to emotional or psychological issues.

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Symptoms

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
Diagnosis

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.

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

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.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

In interpersonal psychotherapy, a counselor will help you look at your personal relationships and make changes in areas that are negatively affecting your life.

Medications

Certain antidepressant medications may be helpful for some people with binge eating disorder.

Prevention

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.

RESOURCES:

Mental Health America
http://www.nmha.org

Something Fishy: Website on Eating Disorders
http://www.something-fishy.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Mental Health Association
http://www.ontario.cmha.ca

National Eating Disorder Information Centre
http://www.nedic.ca

References:

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.

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