You may have no obvious physical signs or symptoms when you have binge-eating disorder. You may be overweight or obese, or you may be at a normal weight. However, you likely have numerous behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms, such as:
- Eating unusually large amounts of food
- Eating even when you're full or not hungry
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Eating until you're uncomfortably full
- Frequently eating alone
- Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
- Experiencing depression and anxiety
- Feeling isolated and having difficulty talking about your feelings
- Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
- Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting
After a binge, you may try to diet or eat normal meals. But restricting your eating may simply lead to more binge eating, creating a vicious cycle.
When to see a doctor
If you have any symptoms of binge-eating disorder, seek medical help as soon as possible. Binge-eating disorder usually doesn't get better by itself, and it may get worse if left untreated.
Talk to your primary care doctor or a mental health provider about your binge-eating symptoms and feelings. If you're reluctant to seek treatment, talk to someone you trust about what you're going through. A friend, loved one, teacher or faith leader can help you take the first steps to successful treatment of binge-eating disorder.
Helping a loved one who has symptoms
A person with binge-eating disorder can become an expert at hiding behavior, making it hard for others to detect the problem. If you have a loved one you think may have symptoms of binge-eating disorder, have an open and honest discussion about your concerns. You can offer encouragement and support and help your loved one find a qualified doctor or mental health provider and make an appointment. You may even offer to go along.
Apr. 03, 2012
- Binge eating disorder. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/binge.htm. Accessed Jan. 31, 2012.
- Appendix B: Criteria sets and axes provided for further study. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/content.aspx?bookid=22§ionid=1891981. Accessed Jan. 31, 2012.
- Sim LA, et al. Identification and treatment of eating disorders in the primary care setting. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2010;85:746.
- Herpertz S, et al. The diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. 2011;108:678.
- Hay PJ, et al. Clinical psychopharmacology of eating disorders: A research update. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011; In press. Accessed Feb. 2, 2012.
- Breuner CC. Complementary, holistic, and integrative medicine: Eating disorders. Pediatrics in Review. 2010;31:c75.
- Carei TR, et al. Randomized controlled clinical trial of yoga in the treatment of eating disorders. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2010;46:346.
- Forman SF. Eating disorders: Epidemiology, pathogenesis and clinical features. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 26, 2012.
- Carrard I, et al. Acceptance and efficacy of a guided Internet self-help treatment program for obese patients with binge eating disorder. Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health. 2011;7:8.
- Hudson JI, et al. The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry. 2007;61:348.
- Mazzeo SE, et al. Environmental and genetic risk factors for eating disorders: What the clinician needs to know. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2009;18:67.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minn. Feb. 22, 2012.
- Sim LA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minn. Feb. 20, 2012.
- Goldschmidt AB, et al. Which dieters are at risk for the onset of binge eating? A prospective study of adolescents and young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health. February 22, 2012. http://jahonline.org. Accessed March 21, 2012.