You are starving. You feel like you haven’t eaten in days. Mmmm…it all looks and tastes so good. You can’t control yourself. You just keep eating and eating.

Clearly this isn’t good for you physically or mentally. We all know how detrimental anorexia and bulimia can be to someone’s body but so can out of control eating also known as binge eating disorder (BED). BED affects millions of Americans and has recently been found to be more common than both anorexia and bulimia.

About six million women suffer from BED.

“Binge eating is a major medical problem and a significant factor in the nation’s obesity crisis,” says James I. Hudson, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

BED is classified by uncontrolled eating binges at least twice a week for a period of at least six months. BED is diagnosed on a case-by-case basis depending on the individual’s reasons and accounts of feeling out of control.

You don’t have to be overweight to suffer from BED. Although BED does tend to go hand-in-hand with obesity many who suffer from BED start out at a healthy weight.

Many turn to binge eating to cope with daily stresses and/or depression. It is a way to comfort yourself by simply feeding your emotions. People eat until they are beyond full to feel some sort of comfort level psychologically. However, no good ever comes from binge eating.

“We know that binge eating is strongly associated with many psychological disorders, including depression. But it’s a bit of a chicken-egg debate — does depression cause bingeing, or vice versa?” says Dr. Hudson.

Many women have found regular exercise and relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga help reduce the urge to binge eat. Sometimes treating the stress and depression alone can stop BED. If you suffer from binge eating try eating three to five small meals a day to remain satisfied. Many who suffer from BED try to punish themselves and starve in between binges trying to makeup for the excess of calories. Starving and punishing yourself will only lead to a greater temptation to binge.

Unlike anorexia and bulimia, binge-eating disorder is not yet considered an official psychiatric disorder. Yes, all the key components are there but more research is needed to make that claim official.

If you suspect that you might suffer from BED there is help available. Speak to your local physician. He may refer you to an overeating anonymous organization or perhaps to a therapist for cognitive behavior therapy to help nail down what is triggering your BED. There is medication available along with natural treatments to help curb your appetite.

BED can lead to heart disease, diabetes and many other health related diseases and complications. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Make a change today. If you see red flags in your eating habits get help today.