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Binge Eating Disorder - Topic Overview

Binge eating means eating larger amounts of food than most people would in a similar situation, in a short period of time. A person with this eating disorder binge eats regularly for several months. When you binge eat, you may feel like you can't control your eating, and you may you feel unhappy about it afterward.

Binge eating disorder is not the same thing as bulimia. Unlike bulimia, if you have binge eating disorder, you don't vomit or try other ways to get rid of calories. But you might try to limit how much food you eat between eating binges. Binge eating disorder is sometimes called compulsive overeating.

Some people who binge eat have a normal weight. But over time, many people who have binge eating disorder gain weight and have problems from being obese. People with binge eating disorder also often have depression, anxiety, or other emotional problems.

Having an eating disorder isn't a sign of weakness or a character flaw. And it is not something you can overcome with just willpower. Many people struggle with eating disorders for a long time. Some people try to keep it a secret or deny that they have a problem. In most cases, you will need treatment to get better. If you have binge eating disorder, treatment can prevent health problems, help you feel better about yourself, and improve the quality of your life.

Experts are not sure what causes binge eating disorder, but it seems to run in families. Cultural attitudes about body shape and weight might also play a role. Anxiety, depression, or stress can cause some people to binge eat.

From time to time, most of us feel like we have eaten more than we should. But eating too much every now and then does not mean that you have binge eating disorder. If you have binge eating disorder, you may:

  • Eat way too much in a short period of time (less than 2 hours) on a regular basis.
  • Eat when you are not hungry.
  • Eat for emotional reasons, such as being sad, angry, lonely, or bored.
  • Feel like you can't stop eating.
  • Eat faster than normal when you binge eat.
  • Eat so much that you feel painfully full.
  • Feel unhappy, upset, guilty, or depressed after you binge eat.
  • Eat alone because you are embarrassed about how much you eat.

Even if you don't have all the symptoms of binge eating disorder, having even a few symptoms can be a sign of a problem that needs treatment. It is important to get help right away if you or someone you know has any of these symptoms.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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