Binge eating disorder


Some might’ve come across the term eating disorders. However many might wonder if there is a disorder related to eating. Yes! There is a Binge eating disorder. Let us look into this in this article.

Binge eating disorder (BED) – Introduction :

BED is a common type of eating disorder. Around 2% of people are affected by this throughout the world. This is associated with high cholesterol levels and diabetes.

Eating disorders are psychiatric disorders, it’s not based on only food. People exhibit this mostly to cope up with trauma, anxiety, depression.

BED and bulimia nervosa

BED is the latest reported condition, which was needed to classify binge eating similar to that seen in bulimia nervosa. Bulimia is a life-threatening eating disorder while BED isn’t. People with bulimia binge eat & try to prevent weight gain. They do that by purging (vomiting ), extreme exercising or fasting. Few specialists regard BED as a milder sort of bulimia.

Binge eating disorder Symptoms

A person with this might feel comfortable while binge eating but feel shame/loss of control later.

Some other symptoms include:

  • Eating – more quickly than usual

              –  until uncomfortably stuffed

              – large quantities without feeling hungry

              – alone due to embarrassment and shame

  • Feeling guilty/disgusted with oneself

BED patients undergo extreme unhappiness about overeating, body shape, and weight 


Binge eating is an expressive disorder. This means that it expresses the deeper psychological problems. Occurs as a side effect of depression. The research on the connection between body image and eating disorders is linked to strict dieting practices.

Restraint on diet points to binge eating, weight regains, bulimia nervosa. A strict diet makes the body adapt to new patterns. This results in eating a large amount of food in a short period.

  • This disorder is inherited.
  • More common in women than in men. This may be due to underlying physiological factors.
  • Variations in the brain. 
  • Body size. Weight problems may be both a cause and result of the disorder.
  • Body image. People with BED often have a negative body image. Body dissatisfaction, dieting, and overeating contribute to the development of the disorder.
  • Binge eating. affected individuals report a history of binge eating as the first symptom.
  • Emotional trauma. Stressful life events, like abuse, death, separation from a family member, or a car accident 
  • Psychological conditions. People with BED have at least one other psychological disorder, such as phobias, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, anxiety, or substance abuse.


According to the WHO, BED, the severity of the disorder can be categorised as mild (1-3 episodes/week), moderate (4-7 episodes/week), severe (8-13 episodes/week) and extreme (>14 episodes/week).

To diagnose the binge-eating disorder, the medical care provider may recommend a psychological evaluation, involving questions of the patient’s eating habits.

Other tests are required, to review the health consequences of binge-eating disorder. This includes a physical exam, Blood and urine tests, Sleep disorder centre consultation.

Clinicians conduct a structured interview using the DSM-5 criteria or take the Eating Disorder Examination. The Eating Disorder Examination is a semi-structured interview that identifies the frequency of binges and associated eating disorder features.

Health risks

BED causes several physical, emotional, and social health risks.

  • It is said that 50% of people with this disorder have obesity. Obesity raises the chances of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
  • Other health risks are sleep problems, chronic pain conditions, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 
  • In women, the disorder is linked with a risk of fertility problems, pregnancy complications, and the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • People with BED have a high rate of hospitalization, outpatient care, and emergency department visits


The treatment plan is based on the causes and severity & individual goals.

Treatment targets binge eating habits, excess weight, body image, mental health issues.

Therapy options include cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, weight loss therapy, and medication. A medical/mental health professional can guide on choosing an individual treatment plan.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for BED concentrates on examining the relations between negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Once the causes are recognised, strategies can be developed to assist people to change them.

Precise interruptions involve setting goals, self-monitoring, achieving regular meal patterns, changing thoughts about self and weight, and encouraging healthy weight-control habits.

Therapist-led CBT is the most effective treatment. Guided self-help CBT is another alternative.

Interpersonal psychotherapy

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is based on the notion that BED is a coping mechanism for unsolved personal problems. They might be grief, relationship conflicts, life changes, social dilemmas.

The objective is to find the problem connected to the negative eating behaviour, admit it, & make productive changes over 12–16 weeks. Therapy may be in group format / on a one-to-one basis with a qualified therapist. 

Dialectical behaviour therapy

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) sees binge eating as an emotional response to negative occurrences. Trains people to manage their emotional responses to cope with negative circumstances in daily life.

The four important areas of treatment in DBT are mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. Though this method shows assuring results, more research is needed.

Weight loss therapy

Behavioural weight loss therapy aims to help people lose weight. Achieved by improvement of self-esteem and body image.

The purpose is to make gradual healthy lifestyle changes. This is based on diet, exercise, monitoring food intake and thoughts about food. 

Not as effective as other methods. A good option for people who were not helped with other therapies / are inspired in losing weight.


Various medications are there to treat binge eating. They are cheaper and faster than conventional therapy. No medications are as efficient as behavioural therapies. Available treatments are antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs like topiramate, and drugs traditionally used for hyperactive disorders. 

Placeboes are used for the treatment but medications have more advantages, for the short-term reduction of binge eating. The medications reduce appetite, obsessions, compulsions, & symptoms of depression. 

Side effects of treatment may include headaches, stomach problems, sleep disturbances, increased blood pressure, and anxiety.

How to overcome binging?

The most useful treatment is CBT, but a variety of treatments exists. Seek a medical professional. This helps with diagnosis, the severity of the disorder, and appropriate treatment. A healthy lifestyle and diet choices impact treatment in a positive way.

Useful approaches:

  • Keep a food & mood diary. Identify personal trigger 
  • Exercise mindfulness. This helps build awareness of triggers. It also increases self-control and self-acceptance
  • Talk to someone. The support group is vital, it may be your spouse, family, a friend, binge eating support groups, or online.
  • Pick healthy foods. A diet consisting of foods high in protein and healthy fats, regular meals, and whole foods will satisfy hunger and provide needed nutrients.
  • Start exercising. Exercise aids with weight loss, improve body image, reduce anxiety symptoms, and boost mood.
  • Get enough sleep.  It’s advised to get at least 7–8 hours of good sleep per night.


If these symptoms arise it’s high time to meet a clinician. This disorder is treatable. Follow the given treatment without fail. There’s always support available, to help you get back to normal. Follow a healthy lifestyle. Eat and sleep right.

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