Treatment for Binge-Eating Disorder

People with binge-eating disorder often are at increased risk for complications associated with obesity, and do need to lose weight. However, strict or unsupervised dieting is NOT recommended. Studies have shown that episodes of strict dieting trigger binge-eating, exacerbating the problem. Most people with binge-eating disorder have a difficult time staying in weight-control programs and they're likely to regain lost weight quickly.

Before a persone with binge-eating disorder attempts to lose weight, he or she should seek out treatment for the underlying cause of the eating disorder. By addressing underlying problems first, people with binge-eating disorder can avoid the frustrations of yo-yo dieting and the feelings of failure when diets "don't work." Treatment usually includes a combination of the following:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy—This type of therapy teaches patients how to recognize and change their eating habits and the way they respond to things that normally trigger binges.
  • Interpersonal therapy—This type of therapy helps people better understand their relationships with friends and family members and address problems that may be related to the way they interact with food.
  • Medication (e.g., antidepressants) can be helpful for some patients.
  • Self-help groups or group therapy are good ways to find support and meet other people who are dealing with the same challenges.

In January 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse)—a medication previously approved to treat ADHD in people over the age of 6—for binge-eating disorder treatment in adults. In clinical trials, study participants taking Vyvanse experienced fewer binge eating days per week and fewer obsessive-compulsive eating behaviors than those taking an inactive drug (placebo).

This medication is not approved for weight loss. It can have serious risks—including psychiatric problems like hallucinations and delusional thinking, and heart complications like heart attack and stroke. Common side effects include anxiety, constipation, dry mouth, insomnia, and others.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 01 Jan 2001

Last Modified: 09 Feb 2016