Binge-eating disorder is marked by several behavioral and emotional signs, including:

  • Eating large amounts of food in a specific time, feeling out of control during these episodes.
  • Eating even when full or not hungry.
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes and continuing until uncomfortably full.
  • Frequently eating alone or in secret, feeling ashamed or guilty about overeating.
  • Frequently dieting, often without significant weight loss.

When to Seek Medical Help

If you suspect binge-eating disorder in yourself or someone else, it’s essential to seek medical assistance promptly. Binge-eating problems can vary in duration and intensity, and timely treatment can make a significant difference in the recovery process.

Talk to your medical care provider or a mental health professional about your symptoms and feelings. If you find it difficult to seek treatment, confide in someone you trust, such as a friend, loved one, teacher, or faith leader, who can support you in seeking help.

Helping a Loved One with Symptoms

If you suspect that a loved one has binge-eating disorder, approach the situation with an open and honest discussion about your concerns. Offer encouragement and support, and suggest seeking help from a qualified medical care provider or mental health professional. You may even offer to accompany them to appointments.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of binge-eating disorder are still unknown. However, several factors may contribute to its development, including genetics, biological factors, long-term dieting, and psychological issues. Binge-eating disorder is more common in women and often begins in late teens or early 20s.

Complications and Prevention

Binge-eating disorder can lead to various complications, including poor quality of life, social isolation, obesity, and medical conditions related to obesity. It is often linked with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and substance use disorders.

While there is no surefire way to prevent binge-eating disorder, seeking professional help if you have symptoms of binge eating is crucial. Encouraging a healthy body image and discussing any concerns with a primary care provider can also help in prevention.

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Binge-eating disorder poses a significant challenge as it involves frequent consumption of unusually large amounts of food with a feeling of being unable to stop eating. Your medical care provider may recommend a comprehensive psychological evaluation to assess your eating habits. Additionally, to check for potential health consequences, tests such as assessing cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, GERD, and sleep-related breathing disorders might be conducted.

  • A physical exam
  • Blood and urine tests
  • A consultation at a sleep disorder center


Addressing binge-eating disorder requires the achievement of two primary goals: reducing eating binges and developing healthy eating habits. Simultaneously, the treatment plan may address associated mental health issues like depression, poor self-image, and shame. Psychotherapy, medication, and behavioral weight-loss programs are effective components of the treatment process.


Emphasizing the importance of individual or group sessions, psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) plays a pivotal role in helping you replace unhealthy habits with healthier alternatives and reducing the frequency of bingeing episodes. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy, and dialectical behavior therapy are commonly employed forms of psychotherapy.


Medical practitioners may prescribe Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse) for adults with moderate to severe binge-eating disorder. While other medications like Topiramate and specific antidepressants may help reduce symptoms, it is essential to weigh the risks and benefits in consultation with your medical care provider.

Behavioral Weight-Loss Programs

Behavioral weight-loss programs, though not recommended until the binge-eating disorder is treated, can be beneficial in managing weight. When appropriately supervised, these programs incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy and address binge triggers for enhanced effectiveness.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

While self-treatment for binge-eating disorder is generally ineffective, you can supplement your treatment plan with self-care practices:

  • Adhere to your treatment plan and attend therapy sessions regularly.
  • Avoid unsupervised dieting to prevent triggering more binge episodes.
  • Consume a nutritious breakfast to curtail higher calorie meals later in the day.
  • Modify your environment to limit exposure to binge-triggering foods.
  • Ensure your diet supplies all essential nutrients.
  • Maintain meaningful connections with supportive family members and friends.
  • Engage in appropriate physical activity to address health issues related to excess weight.

Alternative Medicine

While some seek alternatives like dietary supplements or herbal products for appetite suppression or weight loss, caution must be exercised. Misuse of such supplements, especially by individuals with eating disorders, can have serious side effects and interact adversely with other medications. Always consult your medical care provider before considering such options.

Coping and Support

Coping with binge-eating disorder can be challenging, but these strategies can assist you on your journey:

  • Practice self-compassion and avoid excessive self-criticism.
  • Identify triggers for destructive eating behavior and develop coping mechanisms.
  • Seek positive role models who exemplify realistic body images.
  • Confide in a trusted friend or family member about your experiences.
  • Find a reliable partner who can support you through your struggle with binge eating.
  • Engage in activities that promote relaxation and emotional well-being, such as yoga or meditation.
  • Maintain a journal to gain insights into your emotions and behaviors.

Get Support

Support groups can provide valuable encouragement, hope, and coping strategies. Connect with others who share similar experiences, as they can offer a safe space for understanding and growth. Inquire with your medical care provider about support groups available in your local community.

Preparing for Your Appointment

Addressing binge-eating disorder may require a team-based approach, involving medical care providers, mental health professionals, and experienced dietitians. Prepare for your appointments by taking the following steps:

  • Document symptoms, even those seemingly unrelated.
  • Compile key personal information, such as major stressors or recent life changes.
  • Provide a comprehensive list of medications, herbs, vitamins, or supplements you are currently taking.
  • Be prepared to discuss your typical daily eating habits to aid in the evaluation process.

Questions to Ask

During your appointment, do not hesitate to ask your medical care provider or mental health professional any pertinent questions, such as:

  • What treatment options are available, and which do you recommend?
  • If medication is part of the treatment plan, are generic drugs available?
  • Are there brochures or recommended websites for additional information?

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