Understanding Binge eating Disorder: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Research Based
Medically reviewed by - Dr Rabia Akram, MD Written by - Dr. Diksha Sangle



A serious eating disorder called binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent episodes of uncontrollable eating. With an estimated 2.8 million victims, it is the most prevalent eating issue across the United States.

Regular overeating or simply having a big appetite is not the same as binge eating. Despite not feeling physically hungry, individuals with this condition frequently experience a loss of control during their eating episodes and may consume until they are uncomfortably full.

It typically starts in adolescence or early adulthood, and women are more apt to experience it than men. Along with other mental health problems like substance abuse, depression, and anxiety, it frequently happens. 1Overview| Researched based study from

A serious eating disorder called binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent episodes of uncontrollable eating.


What are the Symptoms?

These are a few typical signs of binge eating disorder

  • Devouring a lot of food while frequently feeling out of control.
  • Eating despite not being physically hungry or feeling uncomfortable.
  • Eating in privacy or by oneself out of humiliation or shame.
  • After a binge episode, feeling guilty, ashamed, or depressed.
  • Overeating or feeling uncomfortable physically.
  • A distorted body image or a lack of satisfaction with one’s appearance.
  • Avoid social settings or activities because of worries about weight or appearance.
  • Substantial weight swings or trouble keeping a healthy weight.
  • Eating quickly without correctly chewing food or savouring the flavour.
  • Consuming food even after one is satisfied or no longer hungry.


What are the Diagnostic factors?

The diagnosis of BED typically involves the following

  • Symptom assessment: Your doctor will inquire about the frequency and severity of binge eating episodes and any guilt, humiliation, or distress that may be connected.
  • Physical exam: evaluation of any potential complications, including type 2 diabetes, elevated blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
  • Psychological evaluation: conducted to determine potential co-occurring mental health conditions.
  • Diagnostic criteria: Your doctor will refer the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to determine the criteria. Some of these factors include recurring episodes, obvious distress, and the lack of compensatory regulatory behaviours like purging. 2Diagnosis | Researched based study from


What are the Causes of Binge eating Disorder?

Cellular elements

  • A heritable tendency towards a disordered diet
  • Low amounts of the neurotransmitter serotonin are one example of abnormal brain chemistry.
  • Hormonal changes, such as thyroid dysfunction or insulin resistance.

Mental health issues

  • Low self-confidence and body image
  • Abuse, negligence, or trauma
  • High amounts of stress or anxiety and perfectionism
  • Inability to manage emotions

Cultural and psychological aspects

  • Reassure about specific physical and societal norms
  • Effects from family or friends include remarks about weight or dieting habits
  • Accessibility to vast quantities of food
  • Rituals or cultural practices linked to food that promotes overeating

Disorders that co-occur

  • Disorders of worry or depression
  • Addiction to drugs or alcohol
  • Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, among other eating problems
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


What are the effects?

Effects on physical wellbeing

  • Increase in weight or obesity
  • Cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Diabetes type 2
  • Digestive issues like constipation or acid reflux
  • Other respiratory problems, including sleep apnoea
  • Joint discomfort and other common issues

Emotional and psychological consequences

  • Shame, remorse, self-hatred, emotions, sadness, anxiety, and other mental health issues
  • Inability to focus and subpar performance at job or school
  • Reduced desire and dysfunctional sexual behaviour
  • Desperate ideas or actions

Aspects of society

  • Social exclusion
  • Difficulty in keeping connections and making new ones
  • Issues at the job or school, like tardiness or low performance
  • The high cost of food and healthcare brings on financial problems
  • Discrimination and stigmatisation based on looks and weight. 3effects | Researched based study from


Strategies for Binge Eating Disorder.

What are the Treatment Strategies involved?


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

  • The standard gold treatment for BED is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
  • Concentrates on recognising and altering unfavourable attitudes and behaviours.
  • Self-monitoring, establishing routine eating schedules and altering beliefs about one’s health and weight.
  • Delivered in one-on-one or group classes, and it may take weeks or months to complete.

Interpersonal Therapy

  • The foundation of interpersonal therapy (IPT) is the notion that binge eating is a coping strategy for underlying feelings like guilt, grief, anger, etc.
  • This treatment is part of analysing the unresolved issues and attempting to fix them.
  • It aims to enhance interpersonal and speaking abilities, reducing eating habits triggered by worry and emotion.
  • It is usually provided in private sessions, and it may benefit those experiencing loneliness, social isolation, or marital difficulties.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)

  • This therapy combines cognitive behavioural methods with interpersonal, emotional control, and relaxation techniques.
  • It helps individuals control their emotional reactions to deal with the challenging aspects of life without bingeing.
  • Assist individuals in controlling their emotions to prevent binge eating. 1Treatment | Researched based study from


  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, an antidepressant, can help to lessen compulsive eating behaviour.
  • By controlling serotonin levels in the brain, these drugs help to elevate mood and lessen desires for food.
  • Anti-seizure drugs reduce some people’s behaviours related to excessive eating, like Topiramate. They function by controlling cerebral activity and lowering food cravings.

Weight loss programs

  • Some individuals might gain from participating in a weight reduction programme created especially for those with binge eating disorders. These programmes typically include support from a healthcare expert and a combination of diet and exercise.

Lifestyle solutions

  • Keeping your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in mind while you consume is known as mindful eating.
  • Your awareness of hunger and fullness signals may improve as a result.
  • Lessen the chance of excessive eating.
  • routine workout
  • Regular physical exercise can lessen stress and elevate mood.
  • Additionally, exercise can assist in enhancing general physical health.
  • Consuming a balanced diet that is rich in whole grains, lean protein, and lots of fruits and veggies
  • Reduce cravings for meals high in calories and low in nutrients that can lead to binge eating.


  • Family and companion support can be beneficial.
  • Joining a support group for those with eating problems can also offer a secure and encouraging setting where you can share experiences and get support from others who can relate.


What are the preventive factors?

The prevalence and effects of binge eating disorder can be reduced through early diagnosis and prevention. Here are some of the most successful methods for preventing the progression of this disease.


  • The first stage in prevention is to inform people of the dangers and symptoms.
  • Early detection can assist people in finding the right therapy and stop the disorder from worsening.


  • Encouragement to embrace wholesome eating practices and consistent exercise regimens can also aid in the prevention of binge eating disorders.
  • A balanced meal with fresh produce, whole grains, and fiber can help control appetite.


  • The best way to avoid binge eating disorder is to develop a strong support network.
  • Interacting with people who can offer emotional support and direction, such as peers, family, and mental health professionals.


  • Preventing binge eating disorder can also be accomplished by addressing underlying psychological problems like depression, worry, or trauma.
  • The development of BED is more likely in people with a history of psychological problems, and early intervention may be helpful in these cases.
  • Promoting a positive self-image and body image is another crucial avoidance tactic.
  • Positive self-talk and body dissatisfaction can help prevent binge eating by encouraging people to value their bodies for what they can do rather than how they appear.


  • Providing people access to therapies that have been proven effective, like CBT or dialectical behaviour therapy, can help stop binge eating. 3Prevention | Researched based study from



  • Myth: It’s a choice to make or a lack of power The fact is, it is not a decision or a lack of willpower but a mental health condition marked by compulsive eating behaviors.
  • Myth: BED only affects individuals who are obese or overweight. In Reality, people of any weight or body type can contract the illness, although those who are overweight or obese are more likely to do so. In actuality, those who have BRD may seem underweight or even of average weight.
  • Myth: BED is occasional binge eating, In Reality, it is a chronic condition marked by recurrent episodes of gulping a lot of food. Guilt, shame, and distress are frequently experienced along with these episodes of binge eating.
  • Myth: Binge-eating disorder is not a severe illness. Fact is, It can have a substantial impact on a person’s physical and mental health, increasing their risk of depression, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses like obesity and diabetes. Both societal and personal lives may be impacted.



  • The increased study is required to understand better the causes, symptoms, and possible treatments of BED and the contributions of genetics, neurobiology, and environmental factors.
  • Greater awareness: To reduce stigma and foster understanding, more initiatives for education and awareness are required.
  • Better treatment choices: better treatment options are required, including more therapies that are supported by scientific evidence. 4Suggestions | Researched based study from


Key Takeaways

A mental health condition known as binge eating disorder causes recurrent bouts of consuming large amounts of food while feeling out of control of one’s eating behaviour.

People of any weight or body shape may be impacted. Both physical and mental health can be significantly impacted, including a higher chance of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and depression.

More study, instruction, and treatment choices are required to enhance comprehension and management.

Disclaimer: The user acknowledges that this article's information is being offered for informational purposes only. Every attempt has been made to guarantee that the article is informational and correct. If they have any doubts or questions about their health, we firmly advise our readers to visit a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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