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Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder


What Does Binge Eating Disorder Look Like? recently published an article titled, “We All Know About Anorexia, but Can We Talk a Bit About Binge Eating Disorder?” The article ( by mentioning that while the stereotypical image of an eating disorder may lead people to think otherwise, eating disorders can be found in all individuals regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, or sexuality. The authors of this piece explain that LGBTQ+ individuals may be more susceptible to developing eating disorders because of minority stress and gender dysphoria.


The authors of this article discuss the troublesome misconceptions of eating disorders and specifically, binge eating disorder (BED) by providing links to images depicting individuals with BED making glorified, excited facial expressions at delicious looking food, when in reality, BED is a very distressing and exhausting condition. BED has been described in medical literature since the 1950s, but was first considered a formal diagnosis in the DSM-5 (2013). Key features of BED include episodes of overeating while feeling a lack of control and eating more rapidly, feeling uncomfortably full, eating when not hungry, eating alone, and/or feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty about eating behaviors. A unique aspect of BED compared to other eating disorders is that individuals do not engage in compensatory strategies (i.e. purging or restricting) following binges.


How Common Is Binge Eating Disorder And What Treatments Are Available?


Research has revealed that while often unrecognized and underreported, BED is as common, if not more common, than other eating disorders, estimated to be affecting 1.2% of adults and 1.32% of adolescents. cites previous research conducted by Fellitti (1998), that found a strong tie between individuals who experienced adverse childhood experiences and psychopathology later in life. Recent studies have found that children who experienced childhood traumas such as, violence, food neglect, or food insecurity, have a greater risk of developing BED.


The authors of the article explain that since individuals with BED refrain from engaging in compensatory behaviors after binging, they often struggle with obesity, which can lead to conditions such as cardiovascular conditions and diabetes. In studies of adults in the U.S., 70% of people with BED reported a lifetime comorbid diagnosis of depression, 59% reported an anxiety disorder; 68% reported a substance use disorder; and 22.9% had attempted suicide. Studies of U.S. youth between the ages of 13-18, 45.3% of youth diagnosed with BED have a comorbid diagnosis: 65.2% reported an anxiety disorder, 26.8% reported a substance use disorder, 12.6 % met criteria for ADHD, 32.8% reported oppositional defiant disorder, and 28.5% met criteria for conduct disorder. Furthermore, the authors explain that adolescents with BED are 5 times more likely to attempt suicide compared to healthy individuals.


The gold standard treatment for BED is CBT, involving strategies such as psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, effective coping strategies, and food intake monitoring. Individuals with BED may also benefit from psychiatric medication to reduce binge frequency and associated distress as well as medical evaluation and intervention to treat obesity. If you or someone close to you is experiencing binge eating disorder or other disordered eating, you can use ABCT’s find a therapist feature to find a CBT clinician:



Arielle Snow, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical Psychology at Hofstra University



What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that is based firmly on research findings.  It places emphasis on changing your cognitions (thoughts) or behaviors (actions) in order to effect change in how you feel. These approaches help people in achieving specific changes or goals.

Changes or goals might involve:

A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like reducing back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Cognitive behavioral therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life. CBT is an effective treatment for individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. The goal of CBT is to help people improve and gain more control over their lives by changing behaviors that don’t work well to ones that do.

How to Get Help

If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet. You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner. It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist. It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees. They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association. Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state. You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations. You may, of course, visit our website ( and click on “Find a CBT Therapist”

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition. These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.

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