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Does Anxiety Cause Binge Eating

Tips For Coping With Anxiety While In Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

Binge Eating Disorder (BED): Symptoms, Common Triggers, & Treatment | Mass General Brigham

Anxiety symptoms can worsen or cause relapses for people in binge eating disorder treatment, so their management is imperative. At an eating disorder treatment center, clients will learn how to use the following tips to cope with anxiety. They are also quite useful for managing binge eating disorder after official treatment as come to its conclusion relapses are common, and should not be considered failures, but they do need to be addressed. Thankfully, these tips can be used in or out of treatment.

Deep Breathing

Anxiety and panic can make it feel like it is too hard to take a breath, which only serves to make the symptoms worse. With deep breathing, it is possible to overcome these anxious feelings and achieve a calm state of mind. This practice teaches people to properly inhale, hold and exhale each breath to quickly resolve anxious thoughts and feelings. With this approach, they can mitigate the anxiety before it has a chance to cause disordered thoughts patterns and behaviors to return.

Mindful Meditation



What Are Complications Of Binge Eating Disorder

Complications from binge eating disorder include:

  • Overweight or obesity

  • Some types of cancer

  • Increased risk for psychiatric illnesses, particularly depression

  • People with binge eating disorder typically eat huge amounts of food at one time often junk food to reduce stress and relieve anxiety.

    • Guilt and depression usually follow binge eating.

    • People with binge eating disorder are at higher risk for depressive mood disorders, anxiety, and substance abuse.

    The Relationship Between Anxiety And Binge Eating

    Binge eating is the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States, far surpassing more highly visible disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Currently, it is estimated that 2.8% of the adult population suffers from binge eating. For many, like Sarah, bingeing emerges in adolescence in response to developing anxiety disorders, which have one of the earliest ages of onset of all psychiatric illnesses. Research confirms this multiple studies on adolescent girls and college-aged women have found that experiences of anxiety predicted binge eating behaviors. In part, this may be due to the fact that food is accessible at a time when young people have limited internal and external resources for coping with serious psychological pain. However, both binge eating and anxiety can begin at any point in life, either organically or in response to a specific trigger such as trauma. Binge eating also affects roughly equal proportions of men and women approximately 40% of those who binge are men.

    Begin Your Recovery Journey.

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    How Does Anxiety Affect Eating Disorders

    Eating disorders and anxiety have something of a complex relationship.

    While its true they commonly occur together and involve some overlapping symptoms, neither directly causes the other. Eating disorders also dont begin solely as an attempt to maintain control over challenging, painful, or unknown circumstances though a need for control can absolutely play a part.

    Many people living with both conditions notice symptoms of anxiety first, before symptoms of the eating disorder begin. Yet that doesnt mean anxiety causes eating disorders after all, not everyone who lives with anxiety will feel distress around food, or develop disordered eating habits.

    Research from 2021 does suggest, however, that a co-occurring anxiety disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder may:

    • help maintain symptoms and behaviors associated with eating disorders
    • lead to more severe symptoms over time

    In short, having anxiety doesnt mean youll develop an eating disorder. But if you have both conditions, they may play off each other and lead to worse symptoms.

    Keep in mind, too, that while eating disorders can certainly involve extreme fear and worry around food and eating, food-related anxiety doesnt automatically translate to an anxiety condition.

    Whats more, some people with eating disorders might have feelings of guilt and shame, dysphoria or a distorted body image, and diminished self-confidence but not anxiety.

    One potential explanation lies in their shared risk factors.

    Learn About Symptoms And Triggers Of Binge

    Binge Eating Disorder Bed Causes Characteristics Treatment

    Binge eating can be diagnosed as an eating disorder if it meets certain clinical criteria. Before 2013 the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals of mental disorders described binge eating as a possible type of eating disorder that was not specified within the main section of the manual. In 2013 the new DSM-V specified criteria for the diagnosis of binge-eating disorder to allow clinicians to recognise the signs of problematic excessive eating. A study of more than 24,000 people from 14 countries found that 1.4% have the disorder , although the true prevalence might be higher.

    What is binge-eating disorder?

    It is important to recognise the symptoms of this disorder, which are about much more than eating too much food. One symptom, alone, does not qualify as a sign of a binge-eating disorder. Remember that not everybody who eats too much food has this disorder and it is not about weight or obesity but about behaviours or attitudes towards food and eating. According to DSM-V, someone with binge-eating disorder has the following symptoms:

    • At least once a week over three months, you have an episode of eating a large amount of food in a very short time and you feel like you have no control.
    • You do not have anorexia or bulimia . Or if you do, the binge-eating episodes do not happen exclusively during episodes of anorexia or bulimia.
    • During each episode, you exhibit at least three of the following five signs:

    What causes binge eating?

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    How Medications Can Help

    There are several medications that can be used to help manage anxiety and anxiety disorders. These include:

    • Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are commonly prescribed for anxiety and can help to reduce overeating behaviors.
    • Anti-Anxiety Medication: Benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Valium can be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, however, they can also be addictive and should only be used short-term.
    • Beta-Blockers: These are typically used to treat heart conditions but can also help manage anxiety by reducing physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat or sweating.

    It is important to speak with a doctor or mental health professional before starting any medication for anxiety as they can help to determine which medication is right for you and monitor any potential side effects. In some cases, anxiety medications may not be necessary and other treatment options, such as therapy, may be more effective.

    What Is Binge Eating Disorder Exactly

    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders describes binge eating disorder as eating more than an average amount of food in a limited timeframeusually around two hourswhile feeling out of control.

    Thats a very basic description of this disorder, but most people will have a variety of behaviors and feelings around binge eating. According to the National Eating Disorder Association , the key factors for diagnosis include:

    • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
    • Extreme distress over binge eating episodes
    • Not compensating for binge eating with behaviors like purging or exercise
    • Episodes that include three or more of the following:
    • Eating very rapidly
    • Eating until you feel uncomfortably full
    • Eating large quantities of food despite not feeling physically hungry
    • Eating alone due to embarrassment about how much you are consuming
    • Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty about overeating

    For some, binge eating starts as a way to cope and self-soothe in a bad situation, for example, when a person is dealing with trauma or abuse. For others, its a response to food insecurity. Thats when there is plenty to eat after payday and not enough later on, which can trigger you to eat while you can.1

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    Who Is Affected By Binge Eating Disorder

    People with binge eating disorder often:

    • Eat large amounts of food

    • Don’t stop eating until they are uncomfortably full

    • Feel embarrassed by the amount of food they are eating

    • Have a history of weight gains and losses

    • Have more trouble losing weight and keeping it off than people with other serious weight problems

    About 1% to 2% of the population have binge eating disorder. It’s seen more often in women than in men.

    The Role Of Anxiety In Binge Eating Behavior: A Critical Examination Of Theory And Empirical Literature

    Compulsive Overeating or Binge eating disorder, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

    Contributions: both authors contributed substantially and meaningfully to the work presented here, including conceptualization and design. DR is primarily responsible for the drafting of the manuscript KW provided critical revision of intellectual content.

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    Statistics On Binge Eating

    Binge eating is estimated to affect 1.5% of women and 0.3% of men worldwide. In the U.S., up to 23% of those affected by binge eating had attempted suicide.

    Many binge eaters had mental health symptoms their entire life: 70% were affected by mood disorders, 68% by substance abuse, 59% by anxiety disorders, 49% by borderline personality disorder, and 32% by post-traumatic stress disorder. The risk for having a binge eating disorder is increased by deprivation, violence, trauma, various minority statuses, and major mental illness.

    Another study found that 37% of those who have binge eating disorder also have anxiety during their lifetime. Anxiety disorders are the second most common psychological disorder seen in those with binge eating disorder who also are morbidly obese.

    In Mumbai, researchers of one study of 2000 English-speaking adolescent females reported higher binge eating behavior than males. Fifty percent of those surveyed reported moderate binge eating while 36.8% reported severe binge eating. Those who binged tended to have irregular menstrual periods and were overweight or obese.

    The Link Between Binge Eating And Depression

    If you binge eat, you might feel depressed about your food habits. Or perhaps those feelings make you eat more. Either way, you can get better.

    âPeople do fully recover – and stay well,â says Timothy Brewerton, MD. He is the executive medical director at The Hearth Center for Eating Disorders in Columbia, S.C.

    When someone’s depressed and they binge eat, it can be hard to know if one condition causes the other or if they’re unrelated. It’s common for people to get depressed after a binge.

    The good news is that there are treatments for both conditions. Sometimes, therapy for depression helps someone stop overeating.

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    Anxiety And Eating Disorders: The Connection

    Food is, of course, a necessity for life.

    For some people, food offers more than an essential source of fuel. If you enjoy sitting down to eat with loved ones or exploring new cuisines while traveling, for example, you might also consider food a source of pleasure. Some people even bake or cook as a way to ease tension and relax.

    But if you live with an eating disorder, or a pattern of disordered eating habits, you might find that food prompts feelings of anxiety instead.

    The signs and symptoms of eating disorders can depend on the type of eating disorder. Not to mention, they can vary from person to person. That said, they generally involve an extreme focus on food and eating habits, along with some kind of emotional distress related to food or eating.

    Yet many people with eating disorders also live with anxiety that goes beyond these feelings of food-related distress. As a matter of fact, as many as two-thirds of people with eating disorders also have an anxiety disorder at some point in life.

    Below, well explore the link between anxiety and eating disorders and offer some guidance on finding support.

    Seeking Help For Anxiety And Eating Disorders

    How to overcome emotional eating and control your appetite and cravings ...

    If you think you or your child could have an eating disorder, its important to seek treatment sooner rather than later.

    Keep in mind that its always worth getting support, even if the disordered eating patterns youve noticed dont fully meet the diagnostic criteria for a specific eating disorder.

    Without treatment, eating disorders often get worse over time, and they can have serious health consequences. Even if they dont affect your physical health right away, they can still cause ongoing emotional distress that affects your everyday life and relationships.

    Treatment is often successful, but overcoming an eating disorder generally does require professional help.

    Therapy can offer a good place to start addressing negative or unwanted emotions around food and eating and learn helpful strategies to cope with anxiety and distress. That said, it often requires a team of trained, supportive experts to work toward eating disorder recovery.

    You can get support by contacting:

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    Eating Disorders That Can Co

    Again, eating disorders can show up differently from person to person. That means you could have an eating disorder even if your symptoms dont exactly align with these criteria.

    Keep in mind, too, that people of any gender and body size or shape can experience any eating disorder.

    Many people with eating disorders dont appear physically unhealthy but their symptoms can still cause plenty of distress as well as serious health concerns.

    How To Successfully Transition To A New Job

    If you find that episodes of binge eating are more frequent at the end of a stressful day at work, think about things that could help to reduce the level of stress. Changing jobs or careers is not something that everyone can do if you are trapped in a job that stresses you out, find ways of reducing or eliminating the stressors such as by asking for adjustments to your workload, taking time off when you can, not working overtime without pay and having a work-life balance.

    For stressors that you cannot change, such as rude clients, seek support or see a healthcare professional for advice about how best to cope. Seek help and support from your spouse, friends, family members or people who you can rely on when you feel quite stressed about work and you need someone to talk to. Spending time with other people can help you cope with times when you feel an urge to binge eat by offering you a sense of distraction and social support.

    Binge eating can be an outcome of work stress among other types of stressors. Addressing the stressors that make you eat excessively can help you break free from it.


    Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P. A., Chiu, W. T., Deitz, A. C., et al. . The prevalence and correlates of binge eating disorder in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys. Biological Psychiatry, 73, 904-914.

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    Do Therapies For Stress Management Help With Binge Eating Disorders

    Considering the connection between stress and binge eating, it seems to make sense to use stress management as part of the therapy. However, in the treatment of eating disorders it is essential to use this not to be treated unilaterally. For example, the NICE recommends cognitive behavioural therapy or an interpersonal therapyto reduce the number of eating incidents.

    What Is Binge Eating Disorder

    Emotional Eating: What if Weight Loss Isn’t about the Food? | Tricia Nelson | TEDxWestMonroe

    Lots of us find comfort in food. And most people will sometimes eat much more than they normally do on special occasions.

    But someone with binge eating disorder has a different relationship with food. They feel like they’ve lost all control over how much they eat, and they can’t stop, even when uncomfortably full. They also binge at least once a week for several months.

    For people with binge eating disorder, food may offer feelings of calm or comfort, or stop them from feeling upset. But after a binge, it can have the opposite effect, causing anxiety, guilt, and distress. Many people who binge eat are overweight. But those at a healthy weight can also have a binge eating disorder.

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    How To Help Someone With Binge Eating Disorder

    Since binge eaters often try to hide their symptoms and eat in secret, it can make it tough for family and friends to spot the warning signs. And you cant always identify a binge eater by appearance, either. While some are overweight or obese, others manage to maintain a normal weight.

    The warning signs that you can spot include finding piles of empty food packages and wrappers, cupboards and refrigerators that have been cleaned out, or hidden stashes of high-calorie or junk food. If you suspect that your loved one has binge eating disorder, bring up your concerns. It may seem daunting to start such a delicate conversation, and the person may deny bingeing or become angry and defensive. But theres a chance that he or she will welcome the opportunity to share the struggle.

    If the person shuts you out at first, dont give up it may take some time before your loved one is willing to admit to having a problem. And remember: as difficult as it is to know that someone you love may be have an eating disorder, you cant force someone to change. The decision to seek recovery has to come from them. You can help by offering your compassion, encouragement, and support throughout the treatment process.

    What Can You Expect From Binge Eating Disorder Treatments

    Ready for the good news? Even though it can feel hard to stop binge eating, binge eating disorder can be treated successfully and many people go into recovery. Research shows that these approaches can help people heal and create healthier eating patterns. Here is a brief overview of the types of treatments and therapy you may encounter.

    So we know there are treatments that do work for binge eating disorder, but right now there are huge gaps in who can access them. Such help is especially unavailable for people without health insurance or in marginalized communities.

    The real challenge, Dr. Goode points out, is providing treatment spaces they can access. Many programs are still centered in costly in-patient treatment centers. Dr. Goode and other researchers in the field recognize that eating disorder treatment depends partly on health care and economic reform.

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