Binge-Eating Disorder

BED

Binge-eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent binge-eating episodes that are accompanied by marked distress, a sense of lack of control, and feelings of self-loathing, disgust, or guilt.

What is Binge-Eating Disorder?

Binge-eating disorder is characterized by recurrent binge-eating episodes that are accompanied by marked distress, a sense of lack of control, and feelings of self-loathing, disgust, or guilt. These episodes involve eating, in a discrete period of time, an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most individuals would eat in a similar period of time, under similar circumstances. Binge-eating episodes are associated with eating much more rapidly than normal and/or until uncomfortably full; eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry; and/or eating alone due to embarrassment about the amount one is eating. These episodes are not paralleled by inappropriate compensatory behaviors.

What Causes Binge-Eating Disorder

Like all eating disorders, binge-eating disorder develops over a period of time due to a complicated blend of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. There is no single place to point to and despite common misconceptions, families and communities of support are not to blame. In fact, they are often recovery’s strongest ally. Many individuals have genetic predispositions to binge-eating disorder that, depending on environmental influences, may or may not be awakened over the course of their lifetime. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States and the most prevalent eating disorder among males. The mean age of onset for the disorder is 18 years and the vast majority of individuals who are diagnosed with BED also struggle with psychiatric, mood, or anxiety disorders and/or impulse control and substance abuse.

  • Confused Physiological Processes & Altered Hunger and Satiety Signals

  • Experiencing & Surviving a Traumatic Event

  • Genetic Predispositions & Societal Pressures

  • Lack of Environmental Control & Persistent, Extreme Stress or Minority Stress

What to Look For

Being familiar with the signs and symptoms associated with binge-eating disorder can help you champion early intervention and recovery. Watch out for binge-eating episodes that are not associated with inappropriate compensatory behaviors, but are associated with feelings of lack of control or self-loathing and occur, on average, at least once a week for three months. Comorbidities include: major depressive disorder (MDD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar I & II disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

  • Binge-Eating Episodes that Occur 1 or 1+ Times a Week

  • Marked Distress around Binge-Eating Episodes

  • Avoiding Meal Times & Eating Alone or in Secret

  • Feelings of Lack of Control, Guilt, Shame, Self-Loathing, or Disgust around Food or Eating

Risks of Binge-Eating Disorder

  • Binge-eating disorder can have extreme medical and physiological consequences that may or may not resolve completely during recovery.

  • Chronic Pain including Headaches, Back & Neck Pain

  • Diabetes & Hypertension

  • In Males: Decreased Frequency of Erections & Nocturnal Emissions

  • In Females: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometrial Cancer & Difficulty Conceiving

Resources

SCOFF: Eating Disorder Assessment Tool

The SCOFF questionnaire is a useful tool to screen for maladaptive eating behaviors. Individuals answering “yes” to two or more questions may be at risk for an eating disorder and…

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What Causes Eating Disorders?

For 15 years I worked as a research scientist examining the neurobiologic and genetic underpinnings of eating disorders. The number one question I heard (and still hear) is: What causes eating disorders? Is…

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Signs Your Adolescent May Have an Eating Disorder

Early adolescence is a tumultuous time for teens and parents. Add a possible eating disorder into the mix, and things can feel downright out of control. Eating disorders are sneaky….

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Understanding the Diagnostic Criteria for Eating Disorders

There are specific behaviors that point to different types of eating disorders. Understanding and identifying these signs and symptoms is critical to providing the most effective individualized course of treatment…

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