Correlation Between Binge Eating Disorder and Trauma

Since the beginning of time, trauma has been affecting and changing people’s lives. Experiencing a traumatic event often causes side effects which transcend into other parts of an individual’s life, thus affecting them in a variety of ways. After experiencing a traumatic event most will experience avoidance, as they try to forget and disassociate themselves with anything related to the initial event.

Studies have shown that patients who have experienced a trauma-related event have been more likely to engage in self-destructive behavior. One form of self-harm is binge eating, which has been proven to be linked with traumatic events.

The Connection Between Binge Eating & a Traumatic Event

Recently doctors have begun research studies in order to discover the connection between patients with binge eating disorder and a traumatic event. The findings of these studies have confirmed that there is indeed a correlation between the two.

While there has been proven to be a connection, the direct relationship has yet to be determined; but those who have suffered from a traumatic experience are more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who have not. It is believed that many binge eaters do so because it is a way to focus on something other than the traumatic event.

According to the DSM-5 binge eating disorder is associated with ‘marked distresses’ and ‘psychological problems.’ This suggests that there is a cause or motive in an individual’s mindset when it comes to binge eating.

Distracting Themselves from the Traumatic Event

With patients who have shown signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they often find some sort of habit with to use in order to distract themselves from the traumatic event. Various symptoms which patients with PTSD have expressed include:

  • Self mutilation
  • Excessive drinking
  • Hopelessness
  • Overwhelming guilt
  • Shame

The inclination towards self-destructive behavior opens up for an eating disorder to begin. In patients who had PTSD and binge ate, they were deflecting the stress and desire to not remember by focusing on eating.

PTSD’s Relationship to Eating Disorders

PTSD is one form of traumatic occurrence which has been linked to eating disorders. Patients who have experienced some form of sexual abuse are also more likely to develop an eating disorder. The trauma incurred during abuse psychologically effects patients.

The ramifications upon the psyche are often detrimental and lead to different disorders. Binge eating is a way for patients to maintain control while distancing themselves from the pain. By self-inflicting pain, the patient is able to assume control, whereas before they would feel like they didn’t have any. Binge eating thus becomes the destructive outlet for the individual to deal with their pain.

Treating Eating Disorders That Result From Trauma

The correlation between trauma and binge eating has long been suspected, but only recently have studies started to examine patients in order to derive a complete analysis. This discovery and new research will help doctors to be able to deliver better treatment to their patients.

In rehab facilities, psychologists and therapists are there to listen and help patients who are experiencing any of these symptoms. It has been proven that patients respond better when they have a supportive and understanding therapist. Most patients associate a positive recovery experience based upon their relationship with their therapist, so choosing a facility where the employees are respectful and trustworthy is quite important.

We Can Help

The Rader Programs’ treatment staff has been providing superior clinical programs for more than 30 years. Our mission is to provide individuals who are struggling with eating disorders the individualized care that they need to triumph over their disorders and enjoy a lifetime of recovery.

Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, orthorexia and compulsive overeating, can be devastating and fatal if left untreated. We want to help you survive and recover. We understand what you are going through and can help.


Scheel, J. (2013, March 5). PTSD and Eating Disorders. Retrieved August 5, 2014.

Feeding and Eating Disorders. (2013, January 1). Retrieved August 5, 2014, from Disorders Fact Sheet.pdf.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (2014, April 15). Retrieved August 5, 2014.

Scheel, J. (2013, March 5). PTSD and Eating Disorders. Retrieved August 5, 2014.

Maine M. Effective treatment of anorexia nervosa: The recovered patient’s view. Trans Anal J 1985; 15:48-54.

Article Contributed by: Kate Bader, Kate has received her Bachelors in Business Administration at Azusa Pacific University and is currently in school for an MBA.

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