Binge eating disorder (BED) can cause psychological, medical, and social complications. Individuals who suffer from BED may be dealing with co-occurring mental health conditions, resorting to binge eating behavior to suppress symptoms or developing these conditions due to extreme distress. It’s important for loved ones to know the symptoms of binge eating so that they can intervene and help the individual receive treatment.

Psychological Complications of Binge Eating

Psychologically, individuals who suffer from BED live with toxic guilt. They are ashamed of their impulsive eating behaviors and often try to hide them from others. This can lead to or worsen symptoms of mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Disappearing from family gatherings, classes, work, or other events to indulge in binge eating takes an enormous emotional toll on the sufferers.

Ashamed and depressed woman

Medical Complications of Binge Eating

In addition to perpetuating psychological distress, BED can inflict lasting damage on a person’s physical health, especially in regard to inducing medical conditions. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), lack of nutrition and weight gain due to BED may precipitate metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, early onset diabetes, and complications of diabetes. As many as one in four individuals undergoing weight loss surgery may continue to experience health difficulties due to unaddressed compulsive eating practices, according to a study completed by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Because binge eating behavior is resonant of addictive behavior, the study suggests, it’s important that BED is treated in a professional setting for the best chance at long-term recovery.

Binge eating can also result in the following medical issues:

  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Heart or gallbladder disease
  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficulty taking deep breaths
  • Some types of cancer
  • Menstrual problems
  • Decreased mobility and exhaustion
  • Sleep apnea and other sleep problems
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Erosion of teeth
  • Esophageal damage (such as tears)

High, sustained caloric intake can damage the body’s ability to function well and process the energy that comes from food.

Social Complications of Binge Eating

Because of their compulsive eating behaviors, individuals may tend to isolate themselves, making this one of the primary social complications of binge eating. Others may criticize or tease them about their weight or diet. They may be drawn to unhealthy relationships due to a poor self-image and low self-esteem. Feeling forced o keep their eating habits secret may prevent them from making close friends. Loved ones may have trouble understanding the individual’s reclusive or unhealthy behaviors, creating tension in relationships. The cycle of negative attention may exacerbate the individual’s guilt as well as his or her need to indulge in binge eating practices.

Family members and friends may detect the need for intervention if the individual is displaying these signs of binge eating:

  • Eating large amounts of food in short periods of time (under two hours)
  • Chronic dieting or obsession over weight
  • Poor coping skills
  • Symptoms of another mental health condition, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD, alongside haphazard eating patterns
  • Poor body image
  • A tendency to form unhealthy connections with others
  • Stealing or hoarding food
  • Spending a lot of money on food
  • Unexplained absences or changes in schedule (to accommodate binge eating)

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, approximately half the risk for suffering from BED is genetic. Almost 3% of American adults will struggle with BED in their lifetime.

The Meadows Ranch Fast Facts:

  • We take patients from 8 years old to 88, but 16-33 is the average patient age.
  • Our campus offers separate treatment for women and girls, with 12 beds for adolescents and 32 beds for adults.
  • We offer inpatient, residential, and partial-hospitalization levels of care.
  • Length of stay varies for each patient according to their unique needs, but most average between 45-60 days.
  • While the majority of our patients are diagnosed with either anorexia or bulimia, at any given time, approximately 20% of our population are dealing with binge eating disorder.
  • We can take patients who are at 70% of their ideal body weight, which is fairly low (equating to a BMI of a 15 or 16).
Meadows Ranch outdoor seating

Talk to Us About Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

At The Meadows Ranch, we’re dedicated to equipping individuals and their families with the resources needed to heal from a binge eating disorder. With our wealth of expertise, we address binge eating disorders and any co-occurring conditions in the same setting for the best possible chance of long-term recovery. Our focus is on treating the whole person — mind, body, and spirit. If you or a loved is suffering from a binge eating disorder, get in touch with us today. Our compassionate staff is standing by to answer your questions and help you begin the journey to recovery.

Call 866-390-5100