Binge Eating Disorder
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Depressed woman with binge eating disorder
Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States.6 The key symptoms are consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time and feeling out of control during a binge.

Many people do not seek treatment because they fear others will judge them for being unable to control their diet. However, left untreated, the disorder can lead to severe short-term and long-term side effects including obesity, health problems, and other psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

If you believe you or someone you know may be suffering from binge eating disorder, read on to learn more about:

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder (BED) is an eating disorder characterized by frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food (often very quickly). During a binge, a person with BED feels out of control. Afterwards, they often feel intense distress, guilt, and shame.1

People with BED do not make themselves vomit or take laxatives to counter the binge. This differentiates binge eating disorder from bulimia , which is a separate but similarly dangerous disorder.

People often keep BED symptoms secret from family and friends because they’re embarrassed. But binge eating disorder is a severe and life-threatening disease that requires professional help.

All obese people do not have BED. But about two-thirds of people with BED are obese.1

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Signs and Symptoms

Young woman showing signs of binge eating disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) now recognizes binge eating disorder as a diagnosable eating disorder. This recognition is significant because it gives legitimacy to an increasingly common disorder. It is also a victory for patients, because insurance companies often require a DSM diagnosis before they will cover the cost of treatment.1

The DSM-V lists the following diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder:

Signs of binge eating disorder include:

If you notice any of these binge eating disorder symptoms in yourself or someone you know, seek professional help. Concerned about your eating habits? Use an Eating Disorder Self-Assessment tool to better understand your situation.

Our knowledgeable support staff can help you find a binge eating disorder treatment program that works for you. Call our helpline anytime at .

What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?

The causes of binge eating disorder are unknown. However, several factors increase the likelihood of developing BED.

Certain thought patterns and personality characteristics are commonly associated with binge eating disorder. These include:

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects

Man experiencing long-term effects of binge eating disorder
In the short-term, people with binge eating disorder mainly experience emotional and psychological side effects, such as:

Most of the long-term effects of BED are associated with obesity. These include:

Have you experienced the effects of bulimia, or do you know someone who has? Call a treatment support specialist at  to learn more about programs that can help you or your loved one recover.

Depression and Binge Eating

Many people with binge eating disorder suffer from depression. They also have higher levels of anxiety than normal-weight or obese people without BED, and higher levels of both current and lifetime major depression.1

Behavioral problems are also common among people with binge eating disorder. They may:

Additionally, personality disorders, including bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, are associated with BED.4 Feeling down? Take a depression quiz.

Binge Eating Disorder Facts and Statistics

Getting Help for Binge Eating Disorder

If you are suffering from binge eating disorder, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Many people suffer from eating disorders and recover.

We can help you find a binge eating disorder treatment program that specializes in treating people just like you. If you have health insurance, your insurance may cover eating disorder treatment. Call our helpline at to speak with a treatment advisor today. We are always available to answer your questions and discuss your options.

Read next: Binge Eating Disorder Treatment Program Options


[1]. National Eating Disorders Association. Binge eating disorder.

[2]. Mayo Clinic. (2016). Binge eating disorder.

[3]. Bulik, C. M., Sullivan, P. F. and Kendler, K. S. (2003). Genetic and environmental contributions to obesity and binge eating. International Journal Eating Disorders, 33: 293–298.

[4]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Women’s Health. (2012). Binge eating disorder fact sheet.

[5]. Pike, K. M., Wilfley, D., Hilbert, A., Fairburn, C. G., Dohm, F. A., & Striegel-Moore, R. H. (2006). Antecedent life events of binge-eating disorder. Psychiatry Research, 142(1), 19-29.

[6]. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2016). Definition and facts for binge eating disorder. 

[7]. De Zwaan, M. (2001). Binge eating disorder and obesity. International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders, 25.

[8]. Lock, J., & La Via, M. C. (2015). Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with eating disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(5), 412-425.

[9]. Hudson, J., Hiripi, E., Pope, H, and Kessler, R. (2007). The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry 61(3):348-358.

[10]. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association