Binge Eating Disorder
Section Author: Katharine L. Loeb, Ph.D. (Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine)
Binge eating disorder is characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating, defined as the uncontrolled consumption of abnormally large amounts of food in a discrete period of time. During these episodes, individuals with binge eating disorder often eat more quickly than usual, eat beyond fullness, eat when not physically hungry, eat alone out of embarrassment, and feel disgusted, depressed, guilty, and distressed. Unlike bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder is not associated with problematic attempts to immediately counteract the effects of binge eating, such as purging, fasting, and excessive exercise. However, most individuals with this disorder are overweight and engage in ongoing attempts to diet successfully. Binge eating disorder, which is recognized by patients, clinicians, and researchers as a clinically significant problem, is currently under consideration as a formal diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (strong research support)
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy (strong research support)
Note: Other psychological treatments may also be effective in treating Binge Eating Disorder, but they have not been evaluated with the same scientific rigor as the treatments above. Many medications may also be helpful for Binge Eating Disorder, but we do not cover medications in this website. Of course, we recommend a consultation with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and discussion of various treatment options. When you meet with a professional, be sure to work together to establish clear treatment goals and to monitor progress toward those goals. Feel free to print this information and take it with you to discuss your treatment plan with your therapist.