Binge-Eating Disorder

What is it and what are my options?

What is binge-eating Disorder?

Binge-eating disorder is a very real and serious disorder that affects many people. Approximately 2 to 3.5 percent of the general population have the disorder (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2012). Binge-eating disorder is when you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food. Almost everyone overeats on occasion, but for some overeating crosses the line to binge-eating disorder and it becomes a regular occurrence, usually done in secret (Mayo Clinic, 2014). People who suffer from this disorder are often overweight, but not all. Binge-eaters can be of any size and shape.
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What causes the disorder? Can I be treated?

The causes are hard to determine for binge-eating disorder. However, there are some factors that are linked to contributing to it. Researchers are looking into how brain chemicals and metabolism (the way the body uses calories) affect binge eating disorder. Research also suggests that genes may be involved in binge eating, since the disorder often occurs in several members of the same family (, 2014). A person may have a history of depression or substance abuse. They may have trouble coping with stress, worry, anger, sadness and boredom (Mayo Clinic, 2014). This disorder often shows up in late teens and early 20's. Dieting can also lead to binge-eating. Some people binge after skipping meals, not eating enough food each day, or avoiding certain kinds of food (, 2014).

There are treatment options available for people who are suffering from binge-eating disorder. One must seek the help of a medical professional who specialize in eating disorders. Look for therapists with a master’s degree in clinical or counseling psychology, experience including developing treatment plans for those suffering from eating disorders, eating disorder counselors must generally meet the same requirements for licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, or licensed clinical psychologists- depending on their level of educational achievement (Psychology School guide, 2012).

There are different therapies that can help as well as drug therapy. CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy) may help you cope better with issues that can trigger binge-eating episodes, such as negative feelings about your body or a depressed mood. It may also give you a better sense of control over your behavior and eating patterns (Mayo Clinic, 2014). There are also drug therapies and weight loss programs that can help.
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Know your facts from your myths

MYTH #1: Binge-eaters should just go on a diet.
FACT: Dieting can't "cure" binge eating disorder. In fact, traditional calorie-restriction diets can actually trigger binges, even in people who don't have binge eating disorder (CBS News, 2014).

MYTH #2: Binge-eaters have no willpower
FACT: Binge-eating disorder actually compels people to eat - just as alcoholism compels people to drink. There's now mounting evidence that, for binge eaters, eating activates specific regions of the brain in much the same way that using cocaine or heroin lights up specific brain regions in substance abusers (CBS News, 2014).

MYTH #3: Binge-eating is a female thing.
FACT: Binge-eating is more common in women, however, roughly one in five eating disorders of any kind are diagnosed in men (CBS News, 2014).

MYTH #4: Binge-eaters are fat.
FACT: Some binge-eaters are overweight, but not all. Many binge eaters use crash diets to maintain a normal weight - even though they might take in 2,000 or more excess calories on a daily basis. Some binge eaters are actually underweight (CBS News, 2014).
If you or a loved one is suffering from binge-eating disorder know that you are not alone and there is help out there. Do not suffer any more, seek professional help.


CBS News. (2014). Binge-eating: 11 dangerous myths. Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Binge-eating disorder. Retrieved from

Men and Binge Eating Disorder.(November 1, 2011). [Video File]. Retrieved from

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). Abnormal psychology (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Psychology School Guide. (2012). How to become an eating disorder counselor. Retrieved from (2014). Binge eating disorder fact sheet. Retrieved from