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Binge eating disorder (BED)

Most people recover from binge eating disorder with the right treatment and support. But it may take time.

The main treatments for binge eating are:

  • guided self-help programmes
  • a type of talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Binge eating disorder often causes weight gain. This can lead to other health problems. But you shouldn't try to diet while you are having treatment. This is because it can make your binge eating worse.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helps you manage problems by thinking more positively. It frees you from unhelpful patterns of behaviour.

They will help you:

  • plan out the meals and snacks you should have during the day, to help you adopt regular eating habits
  • work out what is triggering your binge eating
  • change and manage negative feelings about your body
  • stick to your new eating habits so you don't relapse into binge eating

You shouldn't try to diet while you are having treatment. This can make it much more difficult to stop binge eating.


Antidepressants are not the only treatment for bulimia. But you may be offered an antidepressant like fluoxetine (Prozac).

This is combined with therapy or self-help treatment to help you manage other conditions, such as:

  • anxiety or depression
  • social phobia
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Antidepressants are rarely prescribed for children or young people under 18.

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Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE.

page last reviewed: 23/09/2018
next review due: 23/09/2021

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