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Binge Eating Disorder and Depression

It has been found that many mental illnesses will co-occur, meaning that a person affected with one mental disorder will also demonstrate symptoms of another. A typical pairing that is recognized in the mental health community is Binge Eating Disorder and Depression.

About 50% of people who have Binge Eating Disorder have also been diagnosed with a mood disorder. Quite often, the disorder they suffer with is Depression. When someone is depressed, Binge Eating Disorder may develop as their way to cope with their feelings of anxiety, mood swings, sadness and hopelessness. It can be learned at an early age that food brings a feeling of comfort, which temporarily alleviates the symptoms of being depressed. This pattern is continued into adulthood, causing them to struggle with frequent depression binge eating.


Binge Eating Disorder is evidenced by recurring episodes of eating large quantities of food in a short period of time, with a distressing inability to control the eating or to prevent the next occurrence. Sadly, this disorder is extremely common. Mary Boggiano, Ph.D., an associate professor in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychology, states, "There are more adults suffering from BED than are suffering from anorexia nervosa and bulimia combined.”

After a binge episode, feelings of shame can contribute to the depressed state, creating a vicious cycle that leads to more Binge Eating. The extreme caloric intake during these binges often causes obesity, which can lead to other problems such as back pain, illnesses, difficulty sleeping, social withdrawal, and anxiety. These issues only worsen the feelings of sadness and loneliness that Depression can bring.

Overeating and depression binge eating has traditionally been treated with psychotherapy or behavioral therapies, which often have a high relapse rate. Medication is frequently associated with risks and unpleasant side effects.

Interestingly, research has shown similarities in genetics and the chemistry of the brain with regard to Binge Eating Disorder and Depression. Studies show these similarities as contributing factors when both disorders are exhibited. If someone is more apt to become depressed due to their personal biological makeup, they may have a greater risk of developing another disorder that shares similar biological characteristics. Binge Eating Disorder falls into this category.


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an FDA approved treatment for Depression. Knowing that a substantial number of people who struggle with Binge Eating Disorder also suffer from Depression, experts now believe that TMS can positively impact certain factors that contribute to depression related BED. By decreasing the symptoms of depression symptoms, it can potentially lessen food cravings or the need to use food as a coping mechanism, thus reducing the frequency of binge eating.

If you are seeking help for a Binge Eating Disorder, it is important to understand the link between Binge Eating Disorder and Depression. If you believe that Depression is a contributing factor, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation so that we can help you determine your options and offer you more information about treating Binge Eating Disorder with TMS Neuro Solutions.