Binge Eating Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

by Vanya Sharma last updated -

Binge Eating Disorder or BED is a serious illness that affects almost two percent of the total world population. Let’s take a look at its symptoms and causes in detail below.

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder is a severe eating disorder that can be life-threatening if not treated. It involves repetitive episodes of uncontrollable eating, often very fast and to the point where one may feel like or end up puking. According to the National Eating Disorders Organization, binge eating disorder (BED) is the newest addition to the list of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition or DSM-5.  [1]BED is noted to commonly start when the person is in his/her late teens or early twenties but can happen to a person of any age and is counted under chronic diseases.

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms

There are many physical, emotional, and behavioral signs and symptoms to identify a binge eating disorder as per the National Institute of Mental Health. Let’s take a look. [2]

A girl sitting in front of a table full of food and smiling

Teenagers are at the highest risk of developing a binge eating disorder. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

  • The appearance of empty wrappers or disappearance of large amounts of food in the house
  • Fear of eating out or around other people
  • Extreme body weight and image issues
  • Feelings of low self-esteem and depression
  • Frequently going on diets
  • Social isolation and withdrawal from daily rituals
  • Hiding and/or hoarding food
  • Difficulty in focusing
  • Stomach cramps

It is important to note that BED shouldn’t be confused with occasional episodes of overeating during festivals, wedding, and more.

Binge Eating Disorder Causes

There can be a number of different causes behind a binge eating disorder. Let’s take a look. [3]

  • Genetics
  • Gender
  • Emotional trauma such as abuse, bullying, death of a close one, and/or separation
  • Body image issues
  • Psychological conditions such as PTSD, phobias, bipolar disorder, and more
  • Stress
  • Dieting
  • Boredom

Diagnosis & Health Risks

In order to diagnose this disorder, one shall have at least one episode of overeating in a week over the course of three months. What makes it important to diagnose this disorder is that it can have significant impacts on the health of the one suffering. It can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and stroke. Study reveals that a disorder of this kind can have even greater impacts on the metabolic rate of the body when compared to just obesity. It can also lead to sleep problems, infertility, PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, asthma, IBS, and chronic pain conditions. [4]

Treatment Options

There are many treatment options for this condition, mainly including therapies, such as the following. [5]

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Weight loss therapy
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
  • Medications
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

It is best to seek medical experts in order to seek the right course of treatment for your respective binge eating disorder. As the treatment course also depends on your underlying issues and causes behind the disorder.

There are other steps that you can take at a personal level in order to treat the condition or help prevent it. They include the following:

  • Try keeping a food journal
  • Instill a habit of mindful eating
  • Talk about your struggle with BED
  • Exercise regularly
  • Meditate
  • Sleep well
  • Pick healthy food over junk food

As a last note, always follow a proper self-care routine and put your health and hygiene over and above anyone or anything else. If you recognize the symptoms of this disorder, then go for medical help. There is no shame in seeking treatment for a mental health condition or otherwise. Protection Status
About the Author

Vanya Sharma is a writer at heart with interests in the health and nutrition domain and has experience in content creation, collaboration, and content strategy. Vanya has completed the “Introduction to Food and Health” certificate program from Stanford University, US. She aims to bring unbiased and helpful information to all those seeking to make their health and lifestyle a priority.

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