Diagnosis & Treatment of Binge Eating Disorder

How do doctors diagnose binge eating disorder?

Most of us overeat from time to time, and 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.

Woman patient with doctor.
To determine if you have binge eating disorder, you may want to talk with a specialist in eating disorders.

To determine if you have binge eating disorder, you may want to talk with a specialist in eating disorders, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional. He or she will talk with you about your symptoms and eating patterns. If a health care provider determines you have binge eating disorder, he or she can work with you to find the best treatment options. 

How do doctors treat binge eating disorder?

Talk to your doctor if you think you have binge eating disorder. Ask him or her to refer you to a mental health professioinal in your area. A specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional, may be able to help you choose the best treatment for you.

Treatment may include therapy to help you change your eating habits, as well as thoughts and feelings that may lead to binge eating and 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 provider may also prescribe medication 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 also offers treatment for eating disorders may help you lose weight. However, some people with binge eating disorder do just as well in a behavioral treatment program designed only for weight loss as people who do not binge eat. Talk with your health care professional to help you decide whether you should try to manage your binge eating before entering a weight management program.

Patient standing on weight scale.
Binge eating may make it hard to lose weight and keep it off.
June 2016
Share

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 through its clearinghouses and education programs 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.