LifeStyleHealthCan Overeating turn into a Binge Disorder?

Can Overeating turn into a Binge Disorder?

Humans and especially Youth are the most important resource for the country’s growth and advancement, but there are some problems and disorders which are affecting the youth of the country. One of those issues or disorders is EATING DISORDERS. According to statistics, eating disorders affect 9% of people worldwide. And, it affects 33.4% of people in India, out of which Bulimia Nervosa consists of 0.6%, Binge eating disorder consists of 1.8%, and Eating disorders not otherwise specified consists of 31% of people around the country. Firstly, let’s explore what are eating disorders and how they are classified?

Eating Disorders are basically a state of living of an adolescent when one gets obsessed with their self and living in a fantasy world and peer comparisons lead to certain conditions where they become obsessed with their own bodies. Eating disorders are the disturbances in eating behavior that involves maladaptive and unhealthy efforts to control body weight and are becoming increasingly common in today’s day and age. These are the variety of disorders that relate to the intake of food, or in some cases, non-nutritive substances, or in the elimination of the body waste. These disorders are very serious and it can affect how the person thinks, feels, perceive, and behave. It can impact one’s mood as well as their mental health. These are the fatal illnesses along with long term disturbances in the individual’s eating behavior and one’s thoughts, affect, and emotions. When an individual, especially an adolescent shows the obsession with food, shape, body weight, they might be suffering from these kinds of eating disorders.

DSM (Diagnostic Criteria and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th Edition) talks about these kinds of disorders. It lays down the criteria, and any person has to meet in order to be suffering from these disorders; this edition gives criteria for certain types of eating disorders that include:-

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Other specified or eating disorders

This DSM 5 has given full-fledged and proper criteria for diagnosing an eating disorder. And, one of the main highlights of this DSM 5th edition is that earlier in DSM 4th Edition of eating disorders, it does not include binge eating disorder DSM but in the 5th edition has given a proper finite definition and has recognized as a diagnosable disorder in the binge eating disorder DSM. These disorders are classified and can be found in the DSM-5 under “FEEDING AND EATING DISORDERS”.

Explore below different types of eating disorders:


It is often called as anorexia, wherein the person (male or female) reduces eating to the point that their body weight is significantly low, or less than the minimum expected. It also involves intense and excessive fear of gaining weight coupled with a refusal to maintain abnormal body weight. People with this disorder relentlessly pursue the goal of being thin, no matter what it does to their health. Their hormone secretion becomes abnormal, the heart muscles become weak, and heart rhythms may alter. Other physical effects include diarrhea, loss of muscle, distorted heartbeat, loss of sleep, low blood pressure, and distorted menstruation in females, improper circulatory system. They often have a distorted perception of their own bodies, believing themselves as overweight and then starve themselves. Thus also lead to a decrease in their self-confidence and self-esteem. It is diagnosed more in females than males, however, the rates are increasing today and the risk is more in actors, gymnasts, fitness freaks, dancers, models, and athletes. Feelings of inadequacy, low self-confidence, and self-esteem and body-shamed or bullied in past experiences may also lead to the development of this disorder.


It is often called as bulimia, is a condition in which a person develops a cycle of “BINGING” or overeating enormous amounts of food at one sitting, and then using inappropriate methods for avoiding weight gain. This state basically includes repeated and recurrent episodes of binge eating and then purging it through the laxatives or self-induced vomiting, but some may not use these methods instead they might use other inappropriate methods to avoid weight gain such as fasting the day or two after the binge episodes or engaging in excessive exercise that is potentially harmful to the person’s health. And, it affects adolescent girls more especially 15-18 years of age, and even at a young age and also older women and adolescent boys. In this disorder, one eats in an uncontrollable manner and feels anxiety and experience panic attacks and after purging or self vomiting, it can give relief to the person.


Binge eating disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder that is now recognized and classified under DSM 5th Edition as binge eating disorder DSM under the category of “Feeding and Eating disorders”. It affects more than 2% of people worldwide, especially adolescents and it affects 1.8% of people around India. This disorder can also impact mental health as well as physical health and can cause diseases such as high cholesterol levels, diabetes, lower respiratory levels, indigestion, etc. Binge eating is basically a condition wherein the individual experiences recurrent episodes of consuming large amounts of food and unable to control oneself from eating. Unlike, bulimia nervosa it does not include other activities such as purging, self-induced vomiting, fasting, or using laxatives. It just includes episodes of uncontrollable eating, which leads to obesity and different physical diseases.

It includes two components that are as follows:-

  • Binge eating at a very discrete time period (e.g. Every 1 or 2 hours) and eating more than what normal people eat or their diet looks like.
  • Another component that is included in this type of eating disorder is that one cannot stop himself/herself when binge eating and end up eating large amounts of food. (e.g. 12000-13000 calories in one day).

Following are the causes of binge eating disorders:

  • GENETIC OR BIOLOGICAL CAUSES- Researches show that a history of weight fluctuations can place a person at a very high risk of suffering from this disorder. Hormone irregularities and genetic mutations can also lead to food addiction, which in turn heads up to binge eating disorder. Researchers showed a link between biological abnormalities and compulsive eating and food addiction.
  • FAMILY LEARNING ENVIRONMENT- As we know a child firstly learns in his/her home through their parents who lead to the development of some behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and moral values that cannot be changed in their later lives. When parents do not teach their children the right eating behaviors, it can lead to binge eating disorder.
  • CULTURAL FACTORS- This is also an important cause that includes the society in which a child lives and develops and how society reacts to a children’s initiative and behaviors can lead to a child’s adaptive and maladaptive behaviors in terms of disorders. Social media pressures to be thin can also lead to anorexia nervosa.
  • PERSONALITY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS- If a child has low self-esteem and low self-confidence, one may develop this eating disorder as a relief to the anxious thoughts and panic attacks caused by the low self-concept. And, there is a strong correlation between binge eating disorder and depression.
  • FAMILY HISTORY- It can be the prominent cause of eating disorder as any parent can transfer their disorder to the child or even create an environment wherein the child learns to develop and adapt to these disorders.
  • PAST EXPERIENCES- Traumatic experiences such as sexual abuse or domestic abuse in childhood might lead a person to adapt to these disorders. Past experiences of bullying and body shaming can also lead to an individual experiencing binge eating disorder.
  • SOCIAL ISOLATION AND LACK OF AFFILIATION- When a child lacks love and support in one’s life and feels alone and alienated from friends and family, they might develop binge eating disorder to find relief and happiness.

Symptoms of binge eating disorder are:

  • Continually eating and intake of large amounts of food and calories.
  • Eating till when one is feeling uncomfortable, nauseous, and anxious.
  • Feeling of numbness and lack of sensations while binging.
  • No track on the number of calories or food intake while binging.
  • Feeling anxious and guilty after binge episodes and end up eating more to feel relieved. And one also binge eats at nights.
  • One can do frequently dieting without losing a single pound of weight.
  • Never experienced a feeling of satisfaction even after eating a large amount of food.
  • Eating alone due to feelings of embarrassment and guilt, especially binge eating at nights,
  • and end up to rapid eating in these binge episodes.

But, the main question that arises here is that; how one can do binge eating disorder treatment and what are binge eating medication. EXPLORE ALL THESE VARIABLES BELOW IN THE ARTICLE:-

To get diagnosed with binge eating disorder is the person should have binge episodes once a week. But, there are different levels in this disorder that are as follows-

  • MILD- Experiencing 1-3 binge episodes per week.
  • MODERATE- Experiencing 4-7 binge episodes per week.
  • SEVERE- Experiencing 8-14 binge episodes per week.
  • EXTREME- Experiencing more than 14 binge episodes per week.

These all episodes, especially include binge eating at nights when one is alone.

Now, when one got diagnosed with this binge eating disorder, the treatment and binge eating medications that are given to the person for the Treatment of this disorder also depend on the individual’s severity of the eating disorder, body’s capacity as well as individual’s goals. The treatment which is chosen may target an individual’s behavior, excess weight, body image, and mental health issues especially binge disorder and depression are closely linked.

Important treatments for the eating disorder and binge eating disorder are therapies such as-

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy- This is the most important and recognized way of treating these disorders, and it is a time-limited approach that focuses on the linkage between thoughts, emotions, weight, and body shape. It can help to reduce the binge eating frequency and eating-related psychopathology that is the obsession with body shape and image. It also teaches clients to prevent and relapse of the effects.
  •  Interpersonal therapy- This therapy is also important that certainly focuses on interpersonal relationships and tries to fit the individual in the society, family, and friends so that people can get relief from stress through their families and friends and not through eating vigorously.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy- It is a newer form of therapy and it basically helps to address impulsive behaviors that a person develops along with binge eating disorder and in turn, heads to impulsive uncontrollable eating.
  • Group and Family therapy- Family support is very important for any kind of cure in an individual. It also helps families to understand the issues and disorders from which the person is going through and can support the person.
  • Various counseling– One can take counseling that can also help the person to understand their condition better which in turn to help to resolve binge eating issue. A person experiencing this disorder should not feel ashamed or guilty to see a counselor as they can help the person in one’s betterment.

Medications for binge disorders:

MEDICATIONS that will help a person suffering from binge eating disorder are Antidepressants that target the brain that helps to keep chemical balance and also enhance mood. The Studies that showed some antidepressants that are good for these disorders are:-

  1. Lixdexamfetamine dimesylate
  2. Tricyclic antidepressants
  3. Fluoxetine

These are the main drugs or medicines that are used to treat a person suffering from binge eating disorder, but, a person should consult professionals or a psychiatrist before taking these drugs.

Are Overeating and Binge Eating the Same Thing?

NO, they are not the same. As every individual at one point of time in their lives or any occasion tends to overeat and feels guilty, but this cannot be termed as a full-fledged binge eating disorder as they overeat once in a while. Still, people suffering from binge eating disorder have episodes of overeating frequently so, they can manage with isolation, low self-esteem, and their anxious thoughts.

THUS, when one starts having frequent episodes of overeating, it gets converted into BINGE EATING DISORDER.

Ishika Khandelwal
Ishika Khandelwal
Hi Everyone, I am doing major in Psychology and I am a Mental Health enthusiast and working for two non-governmental organizations in order to provide education to unprivileged children. I have a lot of interest in reading as well as writing. I am a true extrovert and love to be being around people.

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