Diagnosis & Treatment of Binge Eating Disorder

How do health care professionals diagnose binge eating disorder?

Most of us overeat from time to time. Some of us often feel we have eaten more than we should have. Eating a lot of food does not necessarily mean you have binge eating disorder.

A health care professional talks in her office with a young woman who has obesity.To determine whether you have binge eating disorder, you may want to talk with a specialist trained in eating disorders.

To determine whether you have binge eating disorder, talk with a mental health specialist who focuses on eating disorders. The specialist will talk with you about your symptoms and eating patterns and will help you find the best treatment options if you are diagnosed with binge eating disorder.

How do health care professionals treat binge eating disorder?

Treatment may include therapy to help you change your eating habits, thoughts, and feelings that have contributed to binge eating as well as other psychological symptoms. Types of therapy that have been shown to help people with binge eating disorder are called psychotherapies and include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and dialectical behavior therapy.

Your psychiatrist or other health care professional may also prescribe medicine to help you with your binge eating, or to treat other medical or mental health problems.

Should you try to lose weight if you have binge eating disorder?

Losing weight may help prevent or reduce some of the health problems related to carrying excess weight. Binge eating may make it hard to lose weight and keep it off.

If you have binge eating disorder and are overweight, a weight-loss program that helps you develop a structured eating plan and address problem thoughts, particularly about eating and weight, may be helpful. Some people with binge eating disorder require treatment for their binge eating before entering a weight management program. However, some people with binge eating disorder do just as well as people who do not binge eat in behavioral treatment programs.

Talk with your health care professional about whether you should try to manage your binge eating before entering a weight management program. A licensed nutrition professional, such as a registered dietitian trained in disordered eating can help you adopt healthier eating patterns. Learn more on treatment at the National Institute of Mental Health.

A person steps onto a bathroom scale.Binge eating may make it hard to lose weight and keep it off.
Last Reviewed May 2021
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.