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Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating is an eating disorder where a person feels they have to overeat through regular binges.

Symptoms of binge eating disorder

The main sign of binge eating disorder is someone bingeing on a regular basis.

Signs that an episode of overeating is actually a binge, include:

  • eating much faster than normal
  • eating until you feel uncomfortably full
  • eating a large amount of food when you’re not hungry
  • eating alone or secretly due to being embarrassed about the amount of food you’re consuming
  • having feelings of guilt, shame or disgust afterwards

If you feel like you have to purge what you’ve eaten after a binge to avoid gaining weight, you may have symptoms of bulimia.

If binges don’t happen regularly, and your weight is very low, you may have symptoms of anorexia.

Treating binge eating disorder

There are some treatments available for binge eating disorder.

Guided self-help

The main type of psychological treatment for binge eating disorder is guided self-help. Guided self-help is where you work through information and activities on your own. You’ll also have regular support sessions with a professional (usually a psychologist).

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Another treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), either individually or as part of a group. CBT starts with the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behavior are linked and affect one another.

If problems in your life are causing you to binge eat, CBT helps you to reduce bingeing. It helps to identify the underlying issues so you’re less likely to binge in the future.


Antidepressants may be used alongside other treatments for binge eating disorder.

Long term physical effects of binge eating

Binge eating often leads to weight gain. Being overweight or obese can put you at risk of a number of physical health problems, some of which can be life threatening.

These include:

  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • osteoarthritis
  • some types of cancer, like breast cancer and bowel cancer

If you think you might have a binge eating problem, help is available. You can get support to tackle both the physical and mental effects of binge eating.

Getting help for binge eating disorder

If you have eating problems or think you may have an eating disorder, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible.

You could:

  • talk to someone you trust, like a friend or member of your family
  • see your GP – you may find it helpful to bring someone with you for support

Helping someone else

If someone close to you is showing signs of an eating disorder, you can offer help and support.

You could try talking to them about how they feel and encourage them to think about getting help. Try not to put pressure on them or be critical of them, as this could make things worse. You could also offer to help by going with the person to see their GP.

Your GP or a healthcare professional can give you advice on how to help someone. This includes information on:

  • the treatments available
  • how you can support them during their treatment