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Binge Eating Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and More

Victory Bay

What Does it Mean to Binge?

Binge eating disorder is one of the most common eating disorders in the United States. About 3% of all adults in the U.S. (as many as 4 million people) have binge eating disorder. Going on a binge is when you eat a large amount of food at one time or feel like you can’t stop eating. Overeating on a consistent basis where you feel out of control and are riddled with guilt or shame afterward are tell-tale signs of a binge eating disorder.   


While binge eating may look like purely a food disorder at first, it is often connected to other psychological conditions such as anxiety or depression. Eating disorders can be difficult to spot right away, especially binge eating disorders. If you or someone you love is struggling with binge eating, contact Victory Bay, and keep reading to learn more. 

Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

If you think of binge eating, you might associate it with being overweight or obese, but that’s not always the case. People with “normal” weight can also be binge eaters. Here are some signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder to be aware of:  

  • Eating large amounts of food within a short period of time   
  • Feeling like you can’t control your eating or food intake   
  • Eating until the point of being uncomfortably full  
  • Eating when you’re not hungry   
  • Eating alone or in secret  
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed about your eating   

People who struggle with bulimia typically binge and then purge (vomit), take laxatives or do excessive exercise. However, if you have a binge eating disorder, you won’t do anything to try to balance out the calories you are intaking.  

Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

There are a number of reasons why you might binge eat, but here are some potential causes of binge eating disorder:  


  • Genetics. Binge eating disorder is associated with increased sensitivity to dopamine – the brain’s chemical associated with feelings of reward and pleasure. This sensitivity can potentially be inherited and handed down genetically.   
  • Gender. Binge eating disorder is more common in women than men.   
  • Body image. Eating disorders go hand-in-hand with negative body image.   
  • Trauma. Traumatic events can increase the risk of developing a binge eating disorder.   
  • Co-occurring disorders. Mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, and addiction, are all contributing factors.   

Binge Eating Disorder Risks and Complications

A healthy diet is important to a healthy body and mind. Binge eating disorder can severely impact your health, putting you at heightened risk of:  


  • Depression 
  • Diabetes  
  • Malnutrition  
  • Heart disease  
  • Menstrual issues  
  • Sleep problems  
  • Shortness of breath  
  • High blood pressure  
  • High cholesterol   
  • Gallbladder disease  

Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder

To determine whether or not you have a binge eating disorder, you will want to consult with your doctor. They will go over some questions surrounding your medical history and eating habits to determine the next steps. Therapy, psychiatry, and group support are essential parts of an eating disorder treatment plan.   


As previously mentioned, binge eating usually results from a bigger mental health condition. Therefore, it’s important to understand what triggers you to binge eat. By participating in psychiatry and psychotherapy, you’ll work with an experienced therapist to uncover co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and addiction. Once a co-occurring disorder is determined or ruled out, you and your healthcare professional will work to create a treatment and recovery program that works best for you.   


When you experience shame around your eating habits, it can be natural to want to hide it from everyone around you. This just intensifies any feelings of isolation and can cause you to want to eat even more for comfort. Group support is beneficial to binge eating treatment because you’ll be surrounded by others who are struggling with similar issues – making you realize that you are not alone.   


Intensive outpatient (IOP) programs for eating disorders are available and can be a good way to address and treat your binge eating.   


Here are some examples of what is included in an eating disorder IOP:  

  • Individual therapy  
  • Group therapy  
  • Nutritional assessment and consultation  
  • Psychiatric evaluation  
  • Medication-assisted management  
  • Psychoeducation  
  • Staff supported eating  
  • Case management   


Recovery with Victory Bay

At Victory Bay we’re here to help you achieve a new life with a new start in recovery. To learn more about the variety of treatment programs we offer, including mental health, eating disorders, and substance use, contact us today by calling 855.239.5099.