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Would you like an antidepressant with your anorexia?


There is no strong evidence to support that antidepressants can help treat anorexia.

But doctors are doling them out left and right anyway, a new study found.

Published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders last December, the research involved about 500 anorexic women and the treatment they received for the condition. Some women were screened between 1997 and 2002, while others were analyzed between 2003 and 2009.


The findings revealed that:

  • 53 percent of the women had taken some sort of psychotropic drug for anorexia treatment
  • 48 percent had taken an antidepressant
  • 83 percent were taking a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) during the course of the study

By the time the study was over, the number of women taking antipsychotic drugs--which started at 13 percent--had doubled.

Dr. Allegra Broft, a psychiatrist in the eating disorders research unit at Columbia University Medical Center, told the Huffington Post that current research doesn't support treating anorexics with these types of medications.

"It's a jarring thing to hear that medications are being prescribed when the proof is not in," said Broft.

Co-existing issues

While some studies have linked the antipsychotic olanzapine to weight gain, SSRIs haven't been linked to providing any benefit for those with anorexia.

Dr. Terry Shwartz, a specialist in eating disorders at the University of California, says that doctors may prescribe antidepressants to help treat mental health issues that are co-existing with anorexia. But, as Broft asserts, these types of drugs may end up doing more harm than good.

"It's definitely a very concerning issue in our field that [these drugs] are being used without the science," she said.

Source: Huffington Post