Binge Eating Disorder

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Binge Eating Disorder Signs
Person with Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms and Signs

The hallmark symptom of binge eating disorder is recurring episodes of bingeing, or eating excessive amounts of food at one time, without associated purging behaviors like vomiting, exercising, or medication abuse. Other symptoms include

  • eating when under stress,
  • feeling as if one is starving,
  • rapid eating, and taking longer than normal to feel full,
  • shame,
  • eating alone,
  • depression, and
  • guilt feelings.

Quick GuideEating Disorders Pictures Slideshow: Understanding Binge Eating, Anorexia and Bulimia

Eating Disorders Pictures Slideshow: Understanding Binge Eating, Anorexia and Bulimia

Binge eating disorder facts

  • Binge eating disorder is a mental illness whose characteristics include recurring episodes of binge eating without the affected individual's effort to make up for the binge episodes by excessively exercising, purging, and/or inappropriately using medications like diet pills or laxatives.
  • Binge eating disorder affects about 2% of men and 3.5% of women, with most developing the affliction during their teens or early adulthood. Men make up approximately one-third of people with binge eating disorder.
  • About 65% of people with binge eating disorder are obese, and many are overweight.
  • Binge eating disorder symptoms and signs include
    • eating when not feeling hungry,
    • eating alone due to feeling shame,
    • eating more quickly than normal,
    • eating until feeling uncomfortable, and
    • feeling depressed, disgusted, or guilty after overeating.
  • There appears to be no one specific cause for binge eating disorder.
  • Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), topiramate (Topamax), serotonergic (SSRI) medications, and sibutramine (Meridia) reduce the amount and number of binge episodes.
  • Psychotherapy can be a key component of treatment of the emotional problems associated with binge eating disorder.
  • People with binge eating disorder are at greater risk of developing another psychiatric condition, including a substance-use disorder or another eating disorder. Individuals with binge eating disorder also appear to have a greater risk of developing type II diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure, as well as a tendency to engage in self-injurious behaviors or having suicidal thoughts or actions compared to similar-weight individuals without this eating disorder.
  • Educating teenagers and adults about resisting society's pressure to be thin, understanding factors that affect body weight and the negative health aspects of eating disorders, as well as encouraging stress management, good self-esteem, healthy weight control, and acceptance of their bodies can help prevent eating disorders, including binge eating disorder.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/2/2016

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