The vicious cycle of binge eating, obesity and depression

Psychiatrists have been witnessing cases wherein binge eating has led to obesity, which in turn leads to depression


Have you been munching too much of late? Then, it is time to reflect upon your binge eating, as experts warn it may lead you to depression.

Psychiatrists have been witnessing cases wherein binge eating, an eating disorder, has led to obesity, which in turn leads to depression.

Raina Kapoor (name changed), a 22-year-old Mumbai resident who weighed 105kg, was depressed because of her obesity.

Dr Sagar Mundada, Psychiatrist at KEM Hospital, said two years ago, she had joined gym to lose weight. While she lost 50kg at that time, she was attracted to a man who came to her gym and they developed a close relation. However, one day she got to know that he got married and this gave her a sudden shock, which led to depression.

“To overcome her depression, she started overeating. Binge eating during depression gives peace. She even started waking up in middle of the night to eat. Eventually, she gained weight again,” said Mundada.

However, with regular counselling and medication, she is now able to tackle the urge of binge eating when depressed, added Mundada.

According to psychiatrists, binge eating is common among youngsters and women. Biologically, women experience the urge for binge eating more often than men.

Dr Parul Tank, Psychiatrist and Therapist, said, “When depressed or stressed, people tend to engage in ‘emotional binge eating’ to deal with their pain.”

But, Tank added that binge eating can be controlled by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. “Whenever one experiences the urge to binge eat, at that time they should take up some productive work and avoid eating,” Tank added.

Dr Heena Merchant, Assistant Professor at Department of Psychiatrists at KEM Hospital, said psychotherapy and counselling plays an important role to overcome binge eating.

“It is always better to seek professional help in cases of depression to prevent complication. It helps in identifying the root cause of problems. The affected age group is between 16 to 40 years,” Merchant said.

In yet another example, 15-year-old Anjali Shah (name changed) started binge eating because she was poor in academics and was also being bullied by her classmates. She gained 25kg in four months.

“She started eating junk food, which made her feel happy. For a year, she was counselled and taught to divert her mind. People suffering from depression or stress, binge eat to comfort themselves, which later becomes a vicious cycle of eating more to feel good,” said Dr Avinash D’souza, Psychiatrist.

Symptoms of binge eating

  • Unable to stop eating or control eating
  • Swallowing more amount of food
  • Eating even when full
  • Hiding or stocking food
  • Eating continuously throughout the day