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Binge Eating Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Signs & Treatment Help

What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is commonly known by compulsive overeating, or consuming abnormal amounts of food while feeling unable to stop and at loss of control. Binge eating episodes are typically classified as occurring on average a minimum of twice per week for a duration of six months. BED was first explained in 1959 by Albert Stunkard, a psychiatrist and researcher, as Night Eating Syndrome (NES). The term Binge Eating Disorder was created to define similar binge eating behavior without the nocturnal aspect.

Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) founder, Chevese Turner, discusses facts and research about binge eating disorder. As posted by: Mental Fitness, Inc.

Though binge eating disorder can occur in men and women of normal weight, it often leads to the development of unwanted weight gain or obesity, which can indirectly reinforce further compulsive eating. Men and women suffering with binge eating disorder struggle with emotions of disgust and guilt and often have a related co-morbidity, such as depression or anxiety. The negative feelings that usually accompany binge eating often lead him or her to continue to use food to cope; thus creating a vicious cycle. Managed eating disorder treatments are extremely important.

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Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

While the exact cause of binge eating disorder is unknown, there are a variety of factors that are thought to influence the development of this disorder. These factors are:

  • Biological: Biological abnormalities, such as hormonal irregularities or genetic mutations, may be associated with compulsive eating and food addiction.
  • Psychological: A strong correlation has been established between depression and binge eating. Body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and difficulty coping with feelings can also contribute to binge eating disorder.
  • Social and Cultural: Traumatic situations, such as a history of sexual abuse, can increase the risk of binge eating. Social pressures to be thin, which are typically influenced through media, can trigger emotional eating. Persons subject to critical comments about their bodies or weight may be especially vulnerable to binge eating disorder.

Signs & Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

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As individuals suffering with binge eating disorder experience embarrassment or shame about their eating habits, symptoms may often be hidden. The following are some behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder:

  • Continually eating even when full
  • Inability to stop eating or control what is eaten
  • Stockpiling food to consume secretly at a later time
  • Eating normally in the presence of others but gorging when isolated
  • Experiencing feelings of stress or anxiety that can only be relieved by eating
  • Feelings of numbness or lack of sensation while bingeing
  • Never experiencing satiation: the state of being satisfied, no matter the amount of food consumed

The consequences of binge eating disorder involve many physical, social, and emotional difficulties. Some of these complications are:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Insomnia or sleep apnea
  • Hypertension
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Gastrointestinal difficulties
  • Depression and/or anxiety

Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

Cheerful Young ManProfessional support and treatment from health professionals specializing in the treatment of binge eating disorders, including psychiatrists, nutritionists, and therapists, can be the most effective way to address binge eating disorder. Such a treatment program would address the underlying issues associated with destructive eating habits, focusing on the central cause of the problem. It is necessary to concentrate on healing from the emotional triggers that may be causing binge eating, having proper guidance in establishing healthier coping mechanisms to deal with stress, depression, anxiety, etc.

There are also three types of therapy that can be especially helpful in the treatment of binge eating disorder. These therapies are:

In addition to these methods, group therapy sessions led by a trained eating disorder therapist, as well as eating disorder support groups, may also be effective methods of establishing recovery from binge-eating disorder.

Articles on Binge Eating Disorder

  • Depression is commonly associated with eating disorders, and it is often co-occurring with Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Trying to address Binge Eating Disorder can become more difficult if clinical depression is a key component or trigger for the binge eating. This begs the question of “Did binge eating begin because of depression or did depression begin because of binge eating?”
  • Binge Eating Disorder is an eating disorder that masks itself as basic overeating. It can easily go undetected and it affects more men and women than Anorexia or Bulimia. But, do you have Binge Eating Disorder or are simply overeating like so many other people?
  • The perception is that eating disorders normally affect Caucasian women, but eating disorders are color blind and will affect African American women as well. However, there needs to be more research conducted on African American women as most research is directed toward white women.
  • Eating for comfort or emotional reasons is not necessarily a bad thing. That is as long as the food does not become the main source of comfort or method for dealing with life’s stress and challenges. Using food to consistently soothe emotional upheaval can quickly become Binge Eating Disorder, and this can result in some serious health consequences.
  • Commonly mistaken for occasional overeating or indulging, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a serious psychological issue associated with devastating emotional and physical consequences. Perhaps one of the most dangerous results of BED is weight gain, which can keep the vicious cycle of compulsive eating alive. If you or someone you love is struggling with this disorder, there are several factors you should consider to establish freedom from binge eating. Learn more about the important factors of binge eating disorder by reading this article.
  • While not as familiar as Anorexia or Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder is a severe illness that requires equal attention and professional treatment in order to establish recovery. An important approach in addressing BED is the implementation of the˜Non-Diet’ method. This approach essentially teaches sufferers to respond to physical hunger as well as how to regulate feelings associated with food and eating. Use of this method along with other proven therapies can help in healing from BED. Read this article to learn more about the Non Diet Approach for binge eating disorder.
  • Binge eating is not only a concern for adults. Many children and adolescents have secret memories of have engages in binge eating. These patterns are occurring ever more frequently in today’s image-focused, diet-obsessed world. Read two stories about young adolescents who engaged in binge eating disorder behavior.
  • The diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder has been added to the new DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistics Manual) as it’s own separate diagnosis.  This disease of BED, that troubles so many, is now more likely to be treated with the care and respect that binge eating disorder sufferers deserve.  Learn about BED and the DSM-V in this article.
  • With anorexia having the highest mortality rate among any other psychiatric illness, the focus and attention given towards prevention and treatment is absolutely essential. However, sometimes overshadowed is the equally devastating Binge Eating Disorder, also classified as a major eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in May of 2013. Learn more about the devastating effects of BED while at college here.
Page Last Updated and Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on
April 18, 2014
Published on, Information for Eating Disorder Help



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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Michael Noffsinger May 12, 2014 at 12:15 pm


I really loved your website. I am a registered addiction specialist who has an extensive battle with Eating disorders!.

Best Wishes,

Michael Noffsinger


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