What is binge eating disorder?
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.
What causes binge eating disorder?
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.
What are the symptoms?
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.
How is binge eating disorder diagnosed?
A doctor can find out if you have binge eating disorder by asking questions about your eating habits and past health. Your doctor may also ask questions about your mental health and how you feel about food and the shape of your body. If you are overweight, your doctor may also do a physical exam to rule out problems caused by obesity.
How is it treated?
Treatment for binge eating disorder includes getting counseling and, in some cases, taking medicine. Your doctor may have you do both. You may need treatment for a long time to fully recover. You also may need treatment for other problems that often occur with binge eating disorder. These can include bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, obesity, or problems with being overweight.
Who gets binge eating disorder?
Binge eating disorder most often starts in the late teens or the young-adult years, but it can begin in later adulthood too. It is more common in women than men.
- You or your parents are overweight.
- You or your parents have had depression or symptoms of depression.
- You have a poor body image, which means that you don't like the way your body looks.
- You were often told negative things about your weight, eating habits, or how your body looks.
Frequently Asked Questions
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