Emotional eating in response to difficult emotions is not a disorder on its own. It is a coping mechanism to soothe or numb emotions such as boredom, loneliness, and fear. Binge eating disorder (BED), bulimia, and anorexia nervosa, on the other hand, are psychiatric disorders.

Patients with BED tend to consume large amounts of food even when they are not hungry. While this can be a coping mechanism to face a stressful situation, disordered eating behaviors have more to do with body dissatisfaction, negative self-image, overeating, and dieting.