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The Use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in Eating Disorders

Laurel E. S. Mayer, M.D., and B. Timothy Walsh, M.D.

Published: May 1, 1998

Article Abstract

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

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Volume: 59

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