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Signs of binge eating disorder

Like other eating disorders, you cannot tell if someone has it just by looking at them. Learn more about what people with this illness might experience below.

What to look out for

Behavioural signs

If someone is developing binge eating disorder, often changes in behaviour are noticeable before changes to physical appearance. Signs include:

  • Buying lots of food
  • Organising life around bingeing episodes
  • Hoarding food
  • Eating very rapidly
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Avoiding eating around others
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings¬†
  • Compromise of education and employment plans
Psychological signs

Binge eating disorder is a mental illness, and you might notice changes in the way you or someone you know feels before physical symptoms become obvious. Psychological signs include:

  • Spending a lot or most of their time thinking about food
  • A sense of being out of control around food, or a loss of control over eating
  • Feeling anxious and tense, especially over eating in front of others
  • Low confidence and self-esteem
  • Feelings of shame and guilt after bingeing
  • Other mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety
Physical signs

There are several physical consequences associated with binge eating disorder:

  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Other stomach problems
  • Poor skin condition
Long-term effects

Like any eating disorder, binge eating disorder can have long-term physical effects, some of which may be permanent. These include:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Difficulty conceiving and infertility
  • Joint and back pain
  • Damage to the oesophagus and stomach
  • Arthritis
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Sleep apnoea

Most seriously, binge eating disorder may be fatal if not treated in time. However, many of the effects of binge eating disorder are reversible or can be prevented from worsening, and eating disorders are treatable, with full recovery possible.

More about binge eating disorder

Learn more about this serious mental illness.

Treatment for binge eating disorder

Learn about what to expect from treatment.