Binge-Eating Disorder Symptoms & Signs

Carolina House provides leading binge-eating disorder treatment to ensure long-lasting recovery for a healthier and more satisfying life.

Understanding Binge-Eating Disorder

Learn about binge-eating disorder

Binge-eating disorder is a type of eating disorder that is characterized by the inability to control the amount of food that one eats during a discrete period. People who struggle with binge eating disorder may find it difficult or impossible to stop eating once they have begun. These episodes, which are known as eating binges, often involve significant quantities of food being ingested in a rushed or otherwise rapid manner. Unlike people who have bulimia, those with binge-eating disorder do not abuse laxatives or vomit to clear their bodies of the food they eat. While binge-eating can be significantly dangerous and produce many negative effects on an individual’s life, symptoms of this disorder can be managed with the appropriate treatment.


Binge-eating disorder statistics

Within a given year, a little more than 1% of individuals throughout the country are diagnosed with binge-eating disorder. Throughout their lives, a little under 3% of people will be faced with a binge-eating disorder, with roughly 3.5% being female and 2% being male. Sadly, only an estimated 44% of those diagnosed with binge-eating disorder obtain the treatment they need.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for binge-eating disorder

While the exact causes behind binge-eating disorder are not fully understood, studies show that a variety of environmental and genetic factors can play a role in the development of this disorder. Some of these factors can include:

Genetic: Similar to most other mental health conditions, those with a family history of eating disorders are more likely to struggle with this or other forms of eating disorders.

Environmental: Research shows that environmental factors can trigger specific genes. The exact interaction between genetics and one’s environment is still being studied, however experts have found that specific environmental factors increase one’s chances of developing an eating disorder. Those who grew up in families who had parents with extreme dieting tendencies or unhealthy eating habits are more likely to develop this disorder. Additionally, those who were picked on regarding their weight are also more susceptible to developing this disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of mental illness
  • Personal history mental illness
  • Personal history of extreme dieting
  • Age, specifically being in one’s late teens or early 20s
  • Having poor self-esteem
  • Being dissatisfied with one’s own skills and/or accomplishments

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of binge-eating disorder

The signs and symptoms connected to binge eating disorder can vary from individual to individual, and will often depend on one’s personal background and personality. However, there are some shared similarities in how different people experience this disorder, including:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • No long participating in things that were once enjoyed
  • Hindered academic or occupational functioning
  • Hiding one’s eating
  • Dieting frequently and often unsuccessfully
  • Excessive desire to eat, even after one feels full
  • Eating a substantial amount of food over a short period of time
  • Eating alone or eating in secret

Physical symptoms:

  • Obesity-related health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and breathing problems
  • Obesity

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Intrusive thoughts about one’s eating habits
  • Distraction or poor attention from excessive focus on food

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Guilt or shame
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Negative self-image


Effects of binge-eating disorder

Binge-eating disorder can seriously harm those who struggle with it. Below are some of the repercussions of this disorder if it goes untreated:

  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Development of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Loss of job or expulsion from school
  • Strained or broken relationships
  • Obesity and developing obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes and joint problems
  • Poor functioning at work or school

Co-Occurring Disorders

Binge-eating disorder and co-occurring disorders

Those who battle with binge-eating disorder often find themselves struggling with other co-occurring mental health conditions, including, however not limited to, the following:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders

I've tried other treatment centers and therapists in the past, but Carolina House was the first place that actually worked for me and helped me to get over my issues with binge eating.

– a former resident
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