Binge eating disorder is a mental illness characterized by compulsive overeating. Because of that, the condition is also referred to as compulsive eating disorder or compulsive overeating disorder (Binge Eating and Overeating: What's the Difference?) Amazingly, binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in spite of not being officially recognized as a distinct psychiatric condition.1 (Wondering if you have binge eating disorder? Take a binge eating test.)
How Binge Eating Disorder Starts
Binge eating disorder develops over time with increasingly frequent compulsive eating behaviors (compulsive eating symptoms). While it may look to some like the person is simply glutinous or weak-willed, compulsive eating disorder is an addiction and needs to be treated with compassion.
The first warning sign that a person has a problem with compulsive overeating is often the weight gained by the binge eater. Loved ones watch as the person continues to eat more than normal and more than would be acceptable to others. The worst part of compulsive overeating is that the family may not even see the worst compulsive eating behaviors because binge eaters tend to keep their biggest binges a secret.
As the family sees their loved one continue to gain weight, they may get angry that the person is not taking care of themselves or their health. It's important, however, to keep in mind that binge eating disorder is a mental illness and it generally requires professional intervention to begin binge eating disorder treatment.