The Use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in Eating Disorders

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The introduction of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are, in general, safer and more easily tolerated than conventional antidepressants, has had a profound effect on the treatment of affective illnesses and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). A number of symptoms associated with eating disorders overlap those of depression and OCD, suggesting a theoretical and practical case for evaluating the SSRIs in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and obesity. Despite the expectations for SSRIs in the treatment of eating disorders, clinical investigations have yielded mixed results. In this paper, results from clinical studies of SSRIs (with and without concomitant psychotherapy) in the treatment of anorexia and bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and obesity are reviewed, directions for future research are suggested, and practical recommendations for the clinician are provided.

J Clin Psychiatry 1998;59(suppl 15):28–34