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Binge Eating Disorder

written by: Nichole Bolton • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 2/15/2011

Binge eating disorder is a condition where large amounts of food are consumed within short periods of time, leading to feelings of guilt, shame and depression. Someone with binge eating disorder may have tried to control it many times without success, creating a feeling of failure.

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    Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms

    There are many symptoms that someone may have when suffering from binge eating disorder. These include:

    • binge eating a large quantity of food(sometimes thousands of calories worth) within a short period of time, not followed by purging behavior
    • lack of control over eating habits during a binge eating period
    • overeating on a regular basis, sometimes multiple times each day
    • secretive behavior in regards to eating, such as only eating in privacy because of embarrassment
    • feelings of shame, guilt and depression following overeating
    • strong cravings for certain types of foods and flavors
    • overeating occurs during a trance-like state where they feel that they have no self-control
    • very low self-esteem and poor body image
    • attempts to diet or restrict calories which lead to hunger and binging
    • eating for comfort during stressful periods in life
    • eating faster than usual during a binging period
    • binge eating to the point of abdominal discomfort or even pain

    Any of these symptoms may be a sign that someone is struggling with Binge Eating Disorder. Due to the shame and guilt related to the eating disorder, someone may have trouble seeking out help or admitting to a problem. Many people successfully hide this eating disorder as they only overeat when nobody else is around.

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    The Effects

    Binge eating disorder can have a number of troubling effects on someone's health and well being. Frequent binge eating can lead to obesity, which causes a number of poor effects on one's health. Such problems related to obesity include diabetes, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, heart disease, high levels of cholesterol and certain types of cancers.

    Binge eating disorder can also lead to depression, which is sometimes very severe. Other problems in one's social life can include missing work to binge eat, canceling plans with friends to stay home and eat in secret and avoiding social activities that include eating. Someone with this disorder may also be likely to starve themselves throughout the day, leading to fatigue, hunger pains and weakness and also setting them up for binge eating later in the day when hunger strikes.

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    Causes

    The exact cause of binge eating disorder is unknown. While many people who struggle with this eating disorder also have underlying issues with their mental health, such as depression and anxiety, it is unclear whether there is a link between the conditions. Some studies show that binge eating may have begun long before dieting in individuals, but dieting can worsen the eating disorder in many.

    Researchers are trying to find a link between chemicals in the brain, such as seratonin, and binge eating disorder. It is believed that low seratonin may contribute to one's urges to overeat. Recent studies show that there may be a link between a cortisol receptor gene and binge eating disorder. Feeling a lack of control in one's life may also contribute to binge eating. Being involved in abusive relationships, losing work or having a physical illness may cause someone to begin binging as a source of comfort. While overeating may begin as an occasional occurrence, they can worsen with time and become impossible to control without help and support.

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    Triggers

    There are certain, common triggers that many people with binge eating disorder report. These triggers include:

    • being alone and feeling isolated from others
    • lack of daily structure and routine
    • personal problems and stress, such as relationship problems and the death of a loved one
    • being involved in abusive or controlling relationships
    • negative emotions, such as depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, loneliness or fatigue
    • feelings of boredom
    • low self-esteem, gaining weight or feeling bloated
    • dieting or attempting to lose weight
    • feelings of hunger
    • consuming alcohol or certain medications
    • big life changes, such a marriage, divorce, giving birth or moving to a new home
    • attempting to manage binge eating without support

    The important thing to remember, is that help is available. More information on binge eating and other disorders may be found right here, at Bright Hub.

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    References

    http://www.something-fishy.org/whatarethey/be.php

    http://www.sheenasplace.org/index.php?page=binge-eating_disorder_compulsive_overeating

    http://www.athealth.com/Consumer/disorders/bingeeating.html

    http://www.coping-with-binge-eating.com/serotonin.html

    http://www.drsharma.ca/obesity-cortisol-receptor-gene-linked-to-binge-eating.html