Binge Eating Disorder

Binge-Eating Disorder (sometimes known as compulsive overeating) is a serious eating disorder, which is not the same as the more common issue of overeating.  Binge eating disorder is diagnostically defined as recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances. The binge eating episodes would usually be marked by feelings of loss of control, often with a compulsive (or irresistible) urge. Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds of a tasty meal or at festive occasions. Binge-Eating disorder is very different as the over-eating becomes a regular occurrence, usually done in secret and is often accompanied by feelings of embarrassment and guilt, self-loathing or severe self-criticism and even disgust.

Individuals suffering from binge eating disorder often end up in an unhelpful cycle by trying to restrict the next day, or trying dieting fads or other techniques in an effort to stop weight gain. However, these behaviours tend to make the person even more vulnerable to binge eating again. This vicious cycle can leave the individual feeling more hopeless and out of control, leading to further secretive behaviour, isolation and often depression, which in turn can then again lead to looking to food again as a coping strategy in an attempt to manage uncomfortable emotions.

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food, often to the point of feeling uncomfortably full
  • Experiencing a compulsive urge to eat
  • Eating even when not hungry
  • Experience that the eating behaviour is out of control
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about the eating behaviour
  • Experiencing depression and anxiety
  • Feeling isolated and having difficulty talking about emotions
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Yo-yo dieting

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has shown to be the most effective therapy for Binge-Eating Disorder, with some promising research indicating that Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) can also be helpful.

Medication has also shown some effectiveness in the treatment of binge-eating disorder. Usually antidepressants like Fluoxetine are being used as an adjunct to psychological treatment. Topiramate, an anti-epileptic drug is another medication that has shown some benefits.

Click on the links to read about anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.