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.

Quick GuideEating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating

Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating

What are causes and risk factors for binge eating disorder?

As with most other mental disorders, there is no one specific cause for binge eating disorder. Rather it is the result of a complex group of genetic, psychological, and environmental contributing factors. People who are prone to obesity, either genetically or otherwise, tend to be more at risk for developing binge eating disorder compared to those who are not obese. There is increasing understanding that there can be a genetic component to binge eating disorder, and as with other eating disorders, there are often found to be abnormal levels of brain serotonin and often subtle changes in brain functioning.

Social risk factors for binge eating disorders include a history of being bullied or physically or sexually abused. For Caucasian women as opposed to African-American women, discrimination tends to be a risk factor for this disorder, as well. Other risk factors for binge eating disorder include more exposure to negative comments about shape, weight, and eating. People who participate in competitive sports at an elite level are at higher risk for developing eating disorders in general.

Psychologically, binge eating disorder is thought of by many professionals to be a form of food addiction that is characterized by compulsive overeating. This condition tends to be associated with increased perfectionism, obsessive-compulsiveness, depression, anxiety, and substance-use disorders. Phobias and panic disorder are the most common anxiety problems experienced by people with binge eating disorder. Eating binges tend to be triggered by a number of things, like dietary restrictions, hunger, and negative moods.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/2/2016

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