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Binge Eating Disorder

To make an appointment, browse our providers who treat eating disorders or call (212) 305-6001

Facts to Know:

  • Binge eating disorder involves recurrent binge eating and associated psychological distress.
  • Binge eating disorder can be treated effectively with therapy and/or medications.

What is binge eating disorder?

The exact cause of binge eating disorder is not known. Binge eating disorder does seem to run in families which suggests that genetics play some role its development. We do know that binge eating disorder often begins in adolescence or early adulthood, but older adults can develop binge eating disorder as well. Binge eating disorder affects approximately 1.6% of women and 0.8% of men. For individuals with binge eating disorder, quality of life and life satisfaction are often impaired.  

Symptoms

The following symptoms are present for 3 months or longer:

  • Recurrent binge eating. Binge eating is:
    • Eating an unusually large amount of food and
    • Feeling a sense of loss of control while eating
  • While binge eating, an individual may:
    • Eat more rapidly than normal
    • Eat until uncomfortably full
    • Eat alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
    • Eat without feeling physically hungry
    • Feel disgusted with oneself, depressed, or guilty afterwards
  • Distress about binge eating
  • Note: if a person meets the criteria above but is underweight, please see the description for anorexia nervosa. If a person meets the criteria above, is not underweight, and is also engaging in compensatory behaviors (e.g., vomiting, misuse of laxatives/diuretics, etc.), please see the description for bulimia nervosa.

Diagnosis

A diagnosis of binge eating disorder is best made by a doctor or mental health professional such as a therapist. A thorough psychiatric interview is essential, and a physical examination, evaluation of vital signs and laboratory assessment may also be used to establish a diagnosis.

Treatment

At ColumbiaDoctors, we provide the full array of treatments for binge eating disorder. Search our providers for a therapist or psychiatrist who might be a good fit. For patients who require treatment for binge eating and other co-occurring mental health challenges, the Columbia Day Program provides a structured, intensive treatment approach including meal support groups at lunchtime, eating disorder-focused group therapy, and other services tailored to individual needs.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is an evidence-based treatment for binge eating disorder. Our therapists and psychiatrists are trained in the latest therapy modalities and can help provide recommendations about which forms of therapy might help. In many cases, binge eating disorder can be successfully treated with psychotherapy alone.

Psychopharmacology (Medication Management)

In some cases of binge eating disorder, medications can be an important component of treatment. Here at ColumbiaDoctors, our psychiatrists combine a thorough evaluation of each individual’s problems with the latest research to design a customized treatment plan. 

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