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PTSD Associated With Binge Eating Symptoms in Men and Women

December 17, 2019

Subthreshold and threshold post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are associated with binge eating symptoms in both men and women, according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

“Similar to drugs and alcohol, binge eating may be used as a strategy to alleviate distressing symptoms of PTSD,” researchers wrote.

The study was based on data from the 2012-2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III, which included a nationally representative sample of 36,309 adults in the United States. Researchers assessed trauma exposure, PTSD, and binge eating symptoms using the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule, DSM-5 Version, and compared 3 groups of people exposed to trauma: those with no or low PTSD symptoms, those with subthreshold PTSD, and those with threshold PTSD. 

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People with subthreshold and threshold PTSD had a greater number of binge eating symptoms than people with no or low PTSD symptoms, according to the study.

Among men who witnessed trauma, combat-related trauma was linked with fewer binge eating symptoms, the study found. Conversely, among women who witnessed trauma, child maltreatment was associated with more binge eating symptoms.

Researchers also reported negative conditions and mood symptoms were associated with a greater number of binge eating symptoms. 

—Jolynn Tumolo


Braun J, El-Gabalawy R, Sommer JL, Pietrzak RH, Mitchell K, Mota N. Trauma exposure, DSM-5 posttraumatic stress, and binge eating symptoms: results from a nationally representative sample. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2019;80(6):19m12813.

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