Binge Eating Disorder

In keeping with the theme of raising awareness during Mental Health month, I am sharing with you some definitions and facts regarding different mental health conditions. One area of focus in my practice is eating disorders. These are issues that often co-occur with complex PTSD and dissociative disorders. Following up on the article yesterday, Binge Eating Disorder and Childhood Trauma, here is some more in-depth information on binge eating disorder.

Fact Sheet courtesy of The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA):

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder not otherwise specified and is
characterized by recurrent binge eating without the regular use of compensatory measures to
counter the binge eating.
Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by:

  • Frequent episodes of eating large quantities of food in short periods of time.
  • Feeling out of control over eating behavior.
  • Feeling ashamed or disgusted by the behavior.
  • There are also several behavioral indicators of BED including eating when not hungry and eating in secret.

Health Consequences of Binge Eating Disorder:
The health risks of BED are most commonly those associated with clinical obesity. Some of
the potential health consequences of binge eating disorder include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Gallbladder disease

About Binge Eating Disorder:

  • The prevalence of BED is estimated to be approximately 1-5% of the general population.
  • Binge eating disorder affects women slightly more often than men–estimates indicate that about 60% of people struggling with binge eating disorder are female, 40% are male (Smith et al., 1998).
  • People who struggle with binge eating disorder can be of normal or heavier than average weight.
  • BED is often associated with symptoms of depression.
  • People struggling with binge eating disorder often express distress, shame, and guilt over their eating behaviors.

Smith, D.E., Marcus, M.D., Lewis, C.E., Fitzgibbon, M., Schreiner, P. (1998) Prevalence of binge eating disorder, obesity and
depression in a biracial cohort of young adults. Annuls of Behavioral Medicine, 20, 227-232.

Kathleen Young, Psy.D.

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6 Responses to Binge Eating Disorder

  1. Jeanette says:

    I have this disorder, among many coping mechanisms tucked into my DID. I’ve had this problem since I was a very small child, I’d say as soon as I was eating solid food I started binge eating. And it became a source of constant repulsion and criticism by my parent in an already abusive environment. I didn’t realize the connection between the binge eating and a deep emotional wound until I was maybe in my late 20’s or early 30’s but didn’t know how to fix this as I didn’t know what the wound was or how to get to it.

    I’ve spent years doing the yo-yo thing. As soon as I would lose the weight and feel things were under control, I would get triggered in some way and it would start all over again. I am hoping to be able to address this part of my unhealthy coping as my healing continues in my therapy process.

    Thank you for covering this topic! There are so many of us out here who suffer with this humiliating disorder but are just seen as weak people with no will power who can’t control themselves even if they know the harm they are doing to their bodies. Things are not as simple as those around us would like to imagine.


  2. 2fatgirl says:

    If I have this, how do I stop it? Is therapy the only way? Is there some sort of home remedy to try? Should I tell my doctor, my dietitian, or just go straight to a therapist? I don’t know where to start or what to do.

    • I recommend seeking a therapist with expertise in treating eating disorders. Since eating disorders really are not just about the food, you need someone who can guide you in understanding what lies beneath.

  3. Pingback: Eating Disorder Awareness | Dr. Kathleen Young: Treating Trauma in Chicago

  4. Paula Kotva says:

    As a parent of a daughter experiencing BED, Bipolar 2, ADHD, depression and anxiety it is very hard to see her suffer like she is. One of the problems we are facing is finding good therapists who actually understand Eating Disorders in all its forms and everything else attached to this. We live in Toronto and although there are many good doctors here not many seem to know how to deal with this issue. We are searching now for one because she is in desperate need of help.

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