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Binge eating disorder
People with binge eating disorder often eat an unusually large amount of food and feel out of control during the binges. Unlike bulimia or anorexia, binge eaters do not throw up their food, exercise a lot, or eat only small amounts of only certain foods. Because of this, binge eaters are often overweight or obese. People with binge eating disorder also may:
- Eat more quickly than usual during binge episodes
- Eat until they are uncomfortably full
- Eat when they are not hungry
- Eat alone because of embarrassment
- Feel disgusted, depressed, or guilty after overeating
About 2 percent of all adults in the United States (as many as 4 million Americans) have binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder affects women slightly more often than men.
People with binge eating disorder should get help from a health care professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker. As with bulimia, there are different ways to treat binge eating disorder that may be helpful for some people.
- Nutritional advice and psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Drug therapy, such as antidepressants like fluoxetine (Prozac) or appetite suppressants prescribed by a doctor
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do. Therapy for a person with binge eating disorder may be one-on-one with a therapist or group-based.
Explore other publications and websites
A Brief Overview of Therapies Used in the Treatment of Eating Disorders (Copyright © National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) — Psychotherapy can be an effective way of treating eating disorders. This fact sheet provides an overview of each type of psychotherapy commonly used in the treatment of anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.
ANAD Eating Disorder Support Groups (Copyright © ANAD) — If you have an eating disorder, this web page will help you locate a support group in your area.
Binge Eating Disorder — This fact sheet describes the symptoms, causes, complications, and treatment of binge eating disorder, and gives a profile of those at risk for the disorder.
Binge Eating Disorder (Copyright © Helpguide.org) — This fact sheet explains what binge eating is and what binge-eating disorder is, and how it relates to emotional eating.
Binge Eating Disorder (Copyright © National Eating Disorders Association) — This online publication describes the primary symptoms as well as the warning signs of binge eating disorder (BED). It lists health consequences about BED.
Binge Eating Disorder (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This publication describes binge eating disorder, its symptoms, and its possible complications.
Binge-Eating Disorder (Copyright © Mayo Foundation) — This website provides information about binge-eating disorder, including risk factors, symptoms, treatment, coping skills, and self-help.
Eating Disorders — This detailed booklet describes symptoms, causes, and treatments of eating disorders. It also includes information on getting help and coping.
Eating Disorders & Pregnancy: Some Facts About the Risks (Copyright © National Eating Disorder Association) — This publication discusses the risks of having an eating disorder during pregnancy, including an explanation of how it can affect both the baby and the mother. It also provides information on what to do if you become pregnant while already struggling with an eating disorder.
How to Afford Appropriate Treatment for an Eating Disorder: A Guide for Patients & Their Families (Copyright © National Eating Disorder Association) — This publication provides detailed information about health insurance, where to find help for eating disorders, and where to get financial assistance for treatment.
Connect with other organizations
Academy for Eating Disorders
American Dietetic Association
Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders (FEAST)
National Eating Disorders Association
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS
National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse
Weight-Control Information Network
Content last updated March 29, 2010.
Resources last updated March 29, 2010.
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