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Binge Eating Disorder Common Among Bipolar Patients


A few years ago, a study established a link between bipolar disorder and eating disorders – including anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder (Jones). Recently, another study was performed that showed a high rate of people suffering from bipolar disorder also display symptoms of binge-eating disorder. Their study also shows that this subgroup seems to be more severely mentally ill, and that they are more likely to develop or show signs of other psychiatric and health problems.

The new study from the Linder Center of HOPE and the University of Minnesota found that there are higher rates of binge-eating disorder among people with bipolar disorder than the general population (Lees). They also found that this subgroup was more likely to have suicidal thoughts, psychosis, anxiety, and substance abuse than people who had bipolar disorder without binge-eating disorder (Lees).

This study followed a previous one from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, which established that there was a high rate of eating disorders among people with bipolar disorder – as much as 14 percent of the population (Jones). This current study found that while about 4 percent of the American population has bipolar disorder, 10 percent of the bipolar population also has a binge-eating disorder (Lees). Researchers also found that it was more common for women than men with bipolar disorder to have a binge-eating disorder (Mayo Clinic).

More importantly, the implications of this study imply that when binge-eating disorder is coupled with bipolar disorder, the sufferers are more severely mentally ill than their counterparts who exhibit one or the other. As co-author of this study Susan McElroy says, “Patients with bipolar disorder and binge-eating disorder appear to represent a more severely ill population of bipolar patients,” (Nauert).

It is important for researchers to address this, especially because many of the medicines that are given to treat bipolar disorder include side effects such as weight gain and increased appetite. When these medicines are coupled with people who may have binge-eating disorder, the results can be physically and psychologically damaging, resulting in obesity and the resulting health problems, as well as the psychological effects such as suicidal ideation, substance abuse, psychosis, and anxiety.

Both bipolar disorder and binge-eating disorder can wreak havoc on individual’s lives and psyches, even when assessed individually. However, when these two occur together they present a further host of problems and seem to represent a more severely mentally ill group of individuals. Hopefully, further research can find better ways to treat bipolar disorder without medications that have potentially harmful side effects for those who are also dealing with binge-eating disorder.


Works Cited

Jones, Jessica Ward. “High Rate of Eating Disorders in Bipolar Patients.” 10 August 2010. PsychCentral. Web. 26 July 2013.

Lees, Kathleen. “10 Percent of Bipolar Patients Also Have a Binge Eating Disorder.” 25 July 2013. Science World Report. Web. 26 July 2013.

Mayo Clinic. “Bipolar Disorder Takes Different Path in Patients Who Binge Eat, Study Suggests.” 25 July 2013. ScienceDaily. Web. 26 July 2013.

Nauert, Rick. “Binge Eating May Complicate Bipolar Care.” 26 July 2013. PsychCentral. Web. 26 July 2013.



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A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Conditions and Disorders, Eating disorders, Mental Illness, Research · Tags: binge eating disorder, bipolar disorder, mentally ill is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc.
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