Facebook Pixel

Binge Eating Disorder: An Overview

Rate This

Binge eating disorder is a recognised mental illness where the person is excessively worried about their appearance and weight and will try to lose weight by rigorous exercising and using laxatives and diet pills after eating.

They will binge-eat large amounts of food. The condition differs slightly from bulimia nervosa in that the affected person will not induce vomiting after binge eating.

This makes the condition less dangerous than bulimia nervosa but the person is more likely to be overweight and suffer from health problems related to being overweight. Approximately 65 percent of people with binge eating disorder are clinically obese.

Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

• Consuming large quantities of food
• Eating food very quickly
• Eating when not hungry
• Buying food specifically to binge on it
• Eating in secret
• Feeling guilt about eating
• Feeling no control over eating urges
• Depression and low self-esteem
• Weight gain and associated problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure
• Stomach pain
• Headaches
• Sugar cravings
• Inability to feel heat and cold
• Lack of concentration

Who Gets Binge Eating Disorder?

It’s not known exactly why some people binge eat and others don’t but high achievers are more at risk, such as those involved in competitive sports. People who have been bullied, faced discrimination or have been abused are also at greater risk of developing the condition. Stress due to circumstances like death or marriage breakup can also trigger it.

Most cases of the illness last for an extended period of time (more than 14 years) so it is important to seek professional help.


Treatments of binge eating disorder are primarily psychological. Psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy may be offered to help get to the root of the disorder and learn how to manage it.

Self-help groups run by medical professionals could also help. A nutritionist may be sought to help plan a healthy diet.

If the disorder was triggered by depression or traumatic circumstances, antidepressants may be offered.

Help and Support

You can obtain help and support for yourself or your loved one, at:

National Eating Disorders Association
165 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036
Toll-free Information and Referral Helpline: 1-800-931-2237 (9am-5pm EST).
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.edap.org


Eating Disorders, The Royal College of Psychiatrists. Web. 25 September 2011. http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/problems/eatingdisorders/eatingdisorders.aspx

Binge Eating Disorder, Medicine Net. Web. 25 September 2011. http://www.medicinenet.com/binge_eating_disorder/article.htm

Binge Eating, NHS Choices. Web. 25 September 2011. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Binge-eating/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting.

She is a mother of five who practised drug-free home birth, delayed cord clamping, full term breast feeding, co-sleeping, home schooling and flexi schooling and is an advocate of raising children on organic food.

Reviewed September 26, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

Mmmm, well, I have read cases where the person had binge eating disorder and also used laxatives, such as here:


And the sources I used said that laxatives were involved, but thanks for this, I will look into it and alter the article if necessary.

October 17, 2011 - 5:24am
EmpowHER Guest

You have the definition of binge eating disorder wrong. People with binge eating disorder binge on food but do NOT use unhealthy compensatory behaviors to "purge." You seem to think that bulimics binge and then purge by vomiting, whereas people with binge eating disorder binge and then purge with exercise/laxatives/diet pills. This is not true. People who binge and then purge with exercise/laxatives/diet pills are also considered to be bulimic. Binge eating disorder is distinguished from bulimia by the absence of purging. See http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=372 (indicating that binge eating disorder "is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior").

October 15, 2011 - 10:34am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Eating Disorders

Get Email Updates

Eating Disorders Guide

HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!