Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating, or compulsive overeating, is considered an eating disorder and mental health condition. It affects approximately 2% of the world’s population and research shows that it is more common in young to middle aged people. Around 40% of cases are associated with young men. This article provides information concerning the impact of binge eating and the steps you can take to begin the recovery process early on.

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder (BED) occurs when someone eats large amounts of food (more than regular meals) for several months. Binging leaves one feeling like they cannot control their eating and once they’ve binged, they feel guilty about it. Binge eating is different from Bulimia Nervosa in that individuals do not purge or use other methods to get rid of the extra calories. People with binge eating disorder often have emotional problems including anxiety and depression and use food as a coping mechanism.

What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?

Experts have not determined exactly what causes Binge Eating Disorder but it is believed to have a genetic component and is most prominent in families. In certain cases, cultural concerns over body shape and weight may contribute to the condition. Some people are also more likely to binge eat in response to stress, anxiety, and other types of emotional problems.

The most common symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder are:

  • Eating food that is much larger than an average meal or portion of food per day.
  • Consuming a large amount of food in less than 2 hours on a consistent basis.
  • Eating when you aren’t really hungry.
  • Eating when you feel anxious, stressed, sad, or in response to another emotion.
  • Eating much faster than one would usually eat.
  • Binging leaves one feeling like they can’t stop eating.
  • Feeling uncomfortable because of eating too much food.
  • Feeling guilty or depressed after one has binge eaten.
  • Concealing food to binge eat later in the day.
  • Feeling of never being full or satisfied which an important symptom in determining the presence of the disorder and moving on to find the appropriate treatment.

There may also be signs such as fast weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and digestive problems associated with unhealthy food choices and eating patterns. One does not need to have the full list of symptoms to be considered as having Binge Eating Disorder. Experiencing any of these signs and symptoms could be an indication that there is a problem that requires professional help.

The Dangers of Binge Eating Disorder

Both physical and mental health risks are associated with Binge Eating Disorder. The most common physical dangers associated with binge eating disorder include obesity, heart disease, the development of Type 2 diabetes, and a variety of digestive disorders. Sleep disturbances, chronic pain, and respiratory issues such as asthma are common in individuals with this eating disorder owing to excessive weight gain.

Women may experience fertility issues, complications in their pregnancy, and are at increased risk of developing PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Mental health risks are also associated with Binge Eating Disorder including anxiety, depression, and chronic stress. There is also a correlation between emotional problems and binge eating as individuals who experience psychological challenges are more likely to binge eat as a means of coping with negative feelings.

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Getting Help for Binge Eating Disorder

The treatment provided for individual patients affected by Binge Eating Disorder will be different based on the circumstances of the person and the approach that can include psychotherapy, medication, and setting of individual goals around nutrition and body image. Individuals need support and strategies aimed at empowerment to support their progress and overcome personal challenges.

The treatment for Binge Eating Disorder is determined by the severity of the condition itself and the individual circumstances of every patient. A multi-faceted treatment plan is usually a part of overcoming Binge Eating Disorder and targets poor body image, mental health illness, weight gain, and more.

Psychological therapy includes cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, and both individual and group therapy.

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    Let’s look at the types of therapies used to treat Binge Eating Disorder

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) targets the connection between negative thoughts and perceptions and the way you feel or behave in response to body image, weight, and eating habits. Strategies focus on identifying these negative perceptions and attitudes and determining the best ways to assist people in developing helpful and constructive ones. Therapy includes creating and establishing individual goals, monitoring one’s eating patterns and habits, and creating a more constructive approach to weight control and living a healthier lifestyle. CBT is also used to target the negative thoughts and behaviours that are associated with distortions in self image and an inability to cope with stress and emotional problems.

    Interpersonal Psychotherapy

    With interpersonal therapy, the healthcare provider addresses constructive coping for those who are dealing with life challenges, relationship difficulties, and psychosocial problems. The problems associated with the binge eating is identified and strategies introduced to change it over time. Both individual and group therapy are provided to help individuals understand that they are not alone in their struggles with an eating disorder.

    Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

    Dialectical Behaviour Therapy or DBT associates binge eating with an emotional response to a negative event. This results in an inability to cope in a healthy and a constructive manner. Patients are taught to better cope by regulating their emotions and coping with daily stress.

    Weight Loss Therapy

    During Weight Loss Therapy individuals are provided a form of nutrition counselling in which they are taught how to improve their behaviours in response to food and self image. Self control, portion control, and similar measures are provided for individuals with Binge Eating Disorder.


    Depending on individual circumstances, medication may be prescribed to address emotional problems including psychological disorders. It is rarely a long term therapy and combined with behavioural approaches to improving mental health.

    In the UK, the following support services are available for long term assistance to create a treatment plan and support your mental healthcare needs:

    Frequently Asked Questions
    You may have a lot of questions about amphetamine detox. If you are unable to find the answer below please give us a call and speak to one of our addiction specialists today.
    Is Binge Eating Disorder Genetic?
    Eating disorders are largely associated with environmental influences; however, research suggests that BED has a genetic component as it tends to run in families. It is also associated with mental illness and emotional problems as individuals who experience anxiety, depression, and chronic stress find it hard to cope and tend to rely on binge eating.
    What are the Common Signs and Symptoms of BED?
    The most common sign of Binge Eating Disorder is the need to eat despite being full or never feeling satisfied after consuming food. It is also associated with consuming large amounts of food in a single setting or under a 2 hour period. Individuals with BED tend to use the consumption of food as a comping mechanism which is the reason food can never provide long term and satisfying results. With the assistance and experience of a professional and the support of their loved ones, individuals can focus on their progress and overcoming binge eating.
    How Can I Recover From Binge Eating Disorder?
    The key to a successful recovery from BED is receiving personalised treatment from a dedicated and licensed professional. It is also helpful to have the support of family and friends to encourage one through their overall progress. Assistance can also be sought from online support groups offering long term treatment and self service options. With the experience and expertise of a trusted healthcare provider, patients can learn how to overcome negative perceptions, self defeating beliefs, and emotional dysfunction.
    Is Binge Eating Disorder a Form of Mental Illness?
    Eating disorders such as binge eating have been associated with mental illness and should be treated with the assistance and expertise of a mental health professional. Owing to the lack of control and poor eating habits that are characteristic of this condition, it is important that comprehensive psychological treatment is sought.

    Along with professional treatment, receiving support from loved ones is a necessary part of the recovery process. As individuals work through therapy, providing them encouragement and a non-critical approach can make the biggest difference in their lives.

    This includes the ability to establish boundaries particularly in a family setting. Families can learn how to provide support and care making a positive difference in the healing process.

    Jason Sheirs
    Author / Jason Shiers / Dip. Psych MBACP
    Jason Shiers is a Certified Transformative Coach & Certified Psychotherapist who is a specialist in addiction, trauma and eating disorders. He has been working in the field of addiction for 25 years now.