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Learn more about the results we get at Within

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Do I have binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious mental health condition that involves frequent episodes of someone losing a sense of control over how much or what they eat.

To diagnose binge eating disorder, it's important to speak to a licensed medical professional, who will examine several aspects of your health and history to make that determination.

But if you find yourself wondering, "Do I have binge eating disorder?" or are worried about yourself or a loved one, taking a "Do I have binge eating disorder" quiz or learning more about the signs and symptoms of BED may be able to help you understand your own thoughts and behaviors or work toward getting the appropriate help.

Last updated on 
January 9, 2024
Do I have binge eating disorder?
In this article

How do I know if I have binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities.3 Still, many people may be unfamiliar with what actually constitutes BED.

Binge eating disorder is primarily characterized by episodes of binge eating, which happen when someone loses a sense of control over how much or what they eat in a certain period. The amount of food ingested during a binge is considered substantially larger than what an average person would eat in a similar timeframe. To be considered part of the condition, these episodes must occur at least once a week for at least three months.6

Someone with BED may overeat even without feeling physically hungry, and a binge eating episode can result in someone feeling uncomfortably full. Those with BED also frequently eat in secret or may eat much faster than usual during a binge. These episodes regularly result in feelings of shame, guilt, or a lowered sense of self-worth.6

Do I have binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder vs. bulimia nervosa

Binge eating disorder shares some similarities with other eating disorders, including bulimia nervosa (BN). But the two are fundamentally different.

While people with BN also binge eat as part of the condition, they participate in other compensatory behaviors to "make up" for these episodes. This includes purging techniques such as self-induced vomiting, fasting, and over-exercising.

Individuals with binge eating disorder do not partake in compensatory purging behavior. This can lead to several unique physical, mental, and emotional health concerns for people with BED.

Binge eating disorder quiz

Again, the diagnosis of BED or any eating or mental health disorder should be performed by a medical professional. But if you're concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with BED, learning more about binge eating symptoms can help you better understand what's going on.

If you experience one or more of the following signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder, it could point to the presence of an eating disorder or another health condition that needs professional intervention.1,2,3,4,7

Signs of binge eating disorder

  • Eating in excess in comparison to others in a short period, often in a hurry
  • Binge eating without responding by purging, engaging in excessive exercise, using laxatives, or fasting to “make up” for the behavior
  • Eating in secret or hiding from others when binging
  • Having binge eating episodes at least once a week for three months or more

Symptoms of binge eating disorder

  • A feeling of loss of control when eating
  • Eating large amounts of food even when a person is not hungry
  • Having feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment after binge eating
  • Feeling uncomfortably full after a binge
  • Feeling depressed, anxious, or socially isolated as a result of a binge
  • Digestive symptoms like nausea, constipation, or heartburn
  • Joint, muscle, and chronic pain
  • Difficulty sleeping

If you identify with the signs or symptoms of BED listed above, take the first step and talk to a doctor. In addition, if you are experiencing symptoms relating to excessive eating, loss of control while eating, or strong, unwanted feelings linked to eating, you should consult a mental health professional immediately.

Getting help for binge eating disorder at Within

If you're worried that you or a loved one are developing binge eating disorder or showcasing signs or symptoms of BED, our team at Within Health is here to assist you in any way we can.

It takes courage to reach out for assistance, but at Within, our professionals are ready to work with you and provide the support you need to start your journey to recovery. Eating disorders are treatable conditions you can heal from. Contact us today to get started.

Get help today

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.

Resources

  1. What are eating disorders? (n.d.). American Psychiatric Association. Accessed November 2023.
  2. Binge-eating disorder—Symptoms and causes. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Accessed November 2023.
  3. Definition & Facts for Binge Eating Disorder. (n.d.). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed November 2023.
  4. Gill, S. K., & Kaplan, A. S. (2021). A retrospective chart review study of symptom onset, diagnosis, comorbidities, and treatment in patients with binge eating disorder in Canadian clinical practice. Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 26(4), 1233–1242. 
  5. Iqbal, A., & Rehman, A. (2023). Binge Eating Disorder. StatPearls. Accessed November 2023.
  6. Berkman, M. D., Brownley, P. A. (2015). DSM-IV and DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for binge-eating disorder. Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality. Accessed November 2023.

FAQs

How do I know if I have binge eating disorder?

If you are overeating or binge eating regularly, and the episodes are associated with a feeling of loss of control, you may have BED. The professionals at Within can help determine if you have BED.

What are the signs of binge eating disorder?

Some signs of BED are frequent, excessive eating in a short period of time without purging, fasting, or overexercising. Binge eating often occurs in secret.

Do I need treatment for binge eating disorder?

It is crucial to treat BED. It is associated with long-term health risks like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and arthritis.5 It can be a life-long, recurring eating disorder.1

Further reading

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