Binge Eating Helplines
Eating disorders are extremely damaging to your mental health because feelings of anxiety, shame, and guilt tend to build up and push you into isolation from your loved ones. Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States, yet, due to the social stigma attached to it, most people who have the disease do not seek the treatment they need.1
BED is characterized by frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food during a short period of time. Common signs and symptoms of BED include:2
- Feeling out of control of your eating behavior.
- Eating when you are not hungry or when you are full.
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes.
- Eating so much that you feel sick to your stomach.
- Frequently eating by yourself or in secret.
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty, or upset about your eating.
- Frequently dieting.
Serious eating disorders like BED don’t go away on their own without proper treatment. If you recognize some of the symptoms of binge eating disorder in yourself or someone you love, helplines are a great resource to access. Eating disorder helplines are specifically suited to help people with BED and other eating disorders find the treatment they need.
Finding Eating Disorder Treatment
How Does a Helpline Help?
Eating disorder helplines take calls from people with binge eating disorder, food addiction, and bulimia every day and can pass along to you their knowledge.
The sooner you reach out for help, the better your chances for a lasting recovery. Many people defer behavioral health treatment simply because they don’t know where to begin. And it is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options and advertisements you might find during an online search. Helplines can be a great way to fight through the noise.
People call helplines (sometimes known as hotlines) for many different reasons. Some call because they know that they have a problem like BED and they want to find a good inpatient treatment center. Some call to learn more about outpatient resources in their area, such as support groups, therapists, and psychiatrists. Others call because they are in the midst of a serious mental health crisis.
Regardless of your reason for calling, talking to an impartial, non-judgmental person about the toll your binge eating disorder is taking on your life can give you a fresh perspective and hope for where you might go next. Eating disorder helplines take calls from people with binge eating disorder, food addiction, and bulimia every day and can pass along to you their knowledge.
Because of the secretive nature of eating disorders, many people who call eating disorder helplines have never told anyone about their struggles before. Sharing your experiences with someone else can help you begin to process your feelings and decide what to do next. Most reputable hotlines are staffed by counselors or trained volunteers. They are usually anonymous and confidential, so you can feel comfortable sharing your story.
Different helplines have different areas of focus. Some are for suicide prevention and crisis situations, though you do not have to be in the middle of a crisis when you call—these helplines are for anyone who needs a sympathetic ear. Other helplines have access to vast networks of treatment providers and can direct you to the specific help you need.
To find treatment for your binge eating disorder, you could talk to your doctor about recommendations, or you could call one of the numbers listed below to find out more.
However, if you or someone you love is in immediate danger, call 911 first.
En Español: 1-888-628-9454
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You will be connected to the crisis center nearest you.
Depression is very common among people with binge eating disorder, who often have higher levels of anxiety than normal-weight or obese people without BED, and higher levels of both current and lifetime major depression.3 So, if you’re battling depression or anxiety, or if you’re thinking about suicide, call the Lifeline for caring support and helpful information.
Chat: NEDA Click-to-Chat
Crisis Text Line: Text NEDA to 741741
The NEDA Helpline is available to provide support Monday–Thursday from 9 a.m.–9 p.m. EST and Friday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. EST. If no one is available when you call, leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible. They are closed to observe some holidays.
NEDA’s helpline is a free and confidential service. Volunteers have extensive training and are prepared to help you find information, support, and treatment options.
The SAMHSA National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families with mental health disorders and substance or behavioral addictions.
SAMHSA’s Helpline does not provide counseling and emotional support, but their trained specialists can transfer you to an appropriate intake center in your state or connect you with local assistance and support, such as therapists, counselors, treatment programs, and support groups in your area.
The NAMI Helpline is available Monday–Friday from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. EST. Helpline staff and volunteers are there to answer your questions about mental health issues, including symptoms of eating disorders and mental health conditions, treatment options, behavioral health issues, legal issues, programs to help you find jobs, and how to help a loved one get treatment.
They do not provide counseling and cannot give specific treatment recommendations, but they can answer questions about local support groups and services. In the event of a crisis, your call will be transferred to a national crisis helpline.
The ANAD Helpline is available Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. CST. Trained ANAD volunteers are available to help you in whatever way they can. If you suspect you might have an eating disorder, are worried about someone you love, need help stopping a binge, or just need help getting through a meal, give them a call.
Text: Text HELLO to 741741
A free, confidential, 24/7 text line for people in crisis. You will receive an automated text asking you what your crisis is, and within minutes you will be connected to a live counselor. The person on the other end can provide emotional support and try to move you into a safe state of mind. People text the crisis line for all types of problems, so if you need emotional support, but are nervous about talking on the phone, this is a good place to start.
Facts and Statistics
The following is a list of binge eating disorder facts and statistics:3,4,5
- BED is the most common eating disorder in the United States.
- People from all cultures and demographics are affected by BED.
- BED affects 3.5% of adult women and 2% of adult men.
- About 60% of people who have BED are women.
- BED affects 2.3% of adolescent females and 0.8% of males.
- For women, BED typically starts between the ages of 18 and 29.
- For men, BED typically starts later in life between the ages of 45 and 59.
- In adults, BED is characterized by at least 1 binge a week for 3 months.
- In children or adolescents, BED is characterized by at least 1 binge a month for 3 months.
- A high percentage of BED sufferers are overweight or obese.
- National Institute on Mental Health. (2016). Eating Disorders.
- Mayo Clinic. (2016). Binge-Eating Disorder.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2016). Definition and Facts for Binge Eating Disorder.
- National Eating Disorders Association. (2016). Binge Eating Disorder.
- Lock, J. & La Via, M. C. (2015). Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Eating Disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(5), 412–425.