Anorexia Nervosa: Pharmacologic Treatments

Anorexia Nervosa: Pharmacologic Treatments

Length: 1131 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Anorexia Nervosa: Pharmacologic Treatments

Medical Treatments: The Basics

Anorexia nervosa has been recognized by physicians for more than a century, but there is still no generally accepted pharmacologic treatment. Anorexia Nervosa can lead to significantly impaired functioning in its victims along with a considerable morbidity. The pursuit of thinness is the central feature of AN, and the patients usually have a variety of other psychological disorders which makes treatment very challenging and difficult. No medication has proven to be generally useful in promoting or maintaining weight gain, thus cognitive-behavioral therapy remains the cornerstone of treatment. (Hoffman et al)

According to Dr. Philip W. Long, "A therapist must win the cooperation of the patient by emphasizing that treatment can free the patient from the obsessive thoughts about food and body weight that have become the sole focus of the patient's life." In addition, depression, physical well-being, and social relationships can be improved through various treatments.


Pharmacology in the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa

Many medications have been used in the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa. Of these different pharmacological treatments, there have been very few large scale, controlled studies demonstrating their effectiveness. Several of these medications, however, have proved useful in facilitating weight gain during the nutritional rehabilitation phase of treatment. This website discusses these different treatments, explains why they were used and their possible side effects, and the overall validity of their effectiveness as a treatment.

Antipsychotic Drugs

The most common form of this drug which is administered to AN patients is chlorpromazine. If prescribed, it is usually given to severely obsessive-compulsive, anxious, and agitated AN patients. This drug is a neuroleptic or dopamine antagonist in the brain, and the theory which serves as the basis of this treatment revolves around the idea that certain characteristics of anorexia nervosa might reflect central nervous system dopaminergic activity. Some scientists theorize that these dopaminergic activities cause this eating disorder among other things. In certain clinical experiences, chlorpromazine has been shown to be somewhat effective in inducing hunger and weight gain, but others have shown no such effects along with some serious side effects. These include grand mal seizures and in increase in the development of bulimia.

In summary, there is an absence of clear evidence as to the effectiveness of this drug as a treatment and with its potential for unwanted side effects, it is rarely used. (Walsh and Devlin)

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Anorexia Nervosa: Pharmacologic Treatments." 18 Jun 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Anorexia Nervosa And Bulimia Nervosa Essay

- Today’s society uses people’s physical characteristics to measure beauty and accomplishment. This causes people to drive their bodies to an extreme to try and attain physical perfection. There are people who want to be accepted by society and will do whatever it takes. Some take the way that causes them to develop eating disorders. The two most common eating disorders are known as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. They are often mixed up with one another because they share many of the same qualities....   [tags: Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa]

Research Papers
1065 words (3 pages)

The Effectiveness of Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Essay

- Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are eating disorders that severely affect both men and women around the world. The cause of the eating disorder usually derives from psychological, biological and social forces. Eating disorders have become an epidemic in American society, twenty-four million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.\, 2011). There are many ways to address and treat an eating disorder....   [tags: Promising treatments for anorexia and bulimia]

Research Papers
2297 words (6.6 pages)

Anorexia Nervosa And Bulimia Nervosa Essay

- Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are two common eating disorders that seem to have evolved from societal pressures to be thin. The short video, “Dying to be thin and the two articles, Serpell 1999 Anorexia Nervosa and Serpell 2002 Bulimia Nervosa illustrate common themes that manifest from the disorder. These common themes have positive and negative reinforcers that led me to believe that the disorder has environmental, psychological and biological implication that impacts the individual core beliefs....   [tags: Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa]

Research Papers
703 words (2 pages)

Anorexia Nervosa And Bulimia Nervosa Essay

- Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa The two most common types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. There are many similarities, as well as differences, between the two. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are common between the ages of twelve to twenty-five (Johns Hopkins Medicine). These disorders affect females more than males. Approximately ten percent of males have been detected as having one of these eating disorders. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa is considered a psychiatric illness....   [tags: Eating disorders, Anorexia nervosa]

Research Papers
938 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Anorexia Nervosa And Bulimia Nervosa

- Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa Tiffanie McKee Hiwassee College Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa Eating disorders can lead to long term damage physically and mentally to an individual. Life threatening circumstances can cause death if the disorder is not managed by an eating disorder counselor or therapists. Early detection is important to limit future health problems. A dental hygienist has an advantage to see the inside of the mouth for possible trauma, erosion, and malnutrition....   [tags: Anorexia nervosa, Eating disorders]

Research Papers
1118 words (3.2 pages)

Anorexia Nervosa And Bulimia Nervosa Essay

- In today’s society, a person’s social standing is defined from their beauty and accomplishments, so people become ambitious to achieve the physical image that is desired. Society enables people to be self-aware of the discrepancies in their appearance, and could potentially lead people to force their body to extremely unhealthy alternatives that result in the “ideal image.” Unfortunately, these yearnings for acceptance from society can be detrimental to a person’s psychiatric health and could possibly lead to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa....   [tags: Anorexia nervosa, Eating disorders]

Research Papers
784 words (2.2 pages)

Eating Disorders And Anorexia Nervosa Essay

- Over nine million Americans are predicted to suffer from life-threatening eating disorders, the most common in the world being Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa. Amidst two-hundred western women from ages sixteen to twenty-five, one in two-hundred suffer from Anorexia Nervosa, and one in fifty is bulimic. It might be shocking to hear that fifty to sixty percent of American teenage girls think they are overweight, yet only fifteen or twenty percent of them actually need to lose weight. The individuals that suffer from an eating disorder are at a higher risk of premature death than those who suffer from other psychiatric disorders....   [tags: Bulimia nervosa, Anorexia nervosa]

Research Papers
1154 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on The Psychology Of Anorexia Nervosa

- The Psychology of Anorexia Nervosa Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that happen all over the world. In the United States, 24 million people suffer from some type of eating disorder (“Eating Disorders and Statistics”). One eating disorder among these is anorexia nervosa. Everyday, Samantha looks in the mirror and sees a distorted version of herself, someone who isn’t really her. In Samantha’s eyes, all she can see is a chubby girl staring back through the glass of her mirror. She grabs at the centimeters of extra skin on her stomach with a disappointed look on her face....   [tags: Nutrition, Anorexia nervosa]

Research Papers
1441 words (4.1 pages)

Essay about Eating Disorders : Anorexia Nervosa

- Eating Disorders Eating disorders are among one of the worse disorder, it can cause physical harm to the body. The most common eating disorders are Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Individuals with anorexia nervous are described of having a fear of being fat even with a low weight, including the BMI (Body Mass Index). Anorexia nervosa includes having a lack of appetite, it is hard for individuals to hide this disorder. The body shows significant sign of weight loss including brittle hair and nails due to the lack of vitamins and nutrition....   [tags: Eating disorders, Anorexia nervosa]

Research Papers
1327 words (3.8 pages)

Informative Speech : Anorexia Nervosa

- Anorexia Nervosa Purpose: The purpose of this speech is to inform my audience about the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Thesis: In order to be able to get a clear understanding of what anorexia nervosa is, it is important to learn what characterizes it, what effects it has on a person, and how the disorder can be treated. Organizational Pattern: Topical I. Introduction A. Attention Getter: I want you to imagine your worst fear. Now, think of it intensified to the point where you constantly think about it and you are faced with something that provokes this fear at least three times a day....   [tags: Anorexia nervosa, Nutrition]

Research Papers
1019 words (2.9 pages)

Related Searches


A strong tie between anorexia nervosa and depression has been established for years. Malnutrition, emaciation, a distorted body image, a perfectionist family and a myriad of other conditions can produce a psychological profile which enmeshes anorexia nervosa and depression. Moreover, depression occurs far more frequently in anorectic patients than in the general population. Thus, many antidepressants have been shown to be an effective component of the overall treatment of certain anorectics.

Tricyclic antidepressants, such as clomipramine and amitriptyline, have been prescribed to anorectics. In different studies comparing them to placebo drugs, little significant differences between them were found. When dosages were raised, there was a faster bodyweight gain than with placebo, but the medication produced problematic adverse effect including sedation, tachycardia, constipation, dry mouth and confusion. (Crow & Mitchell 375)

Mixed reviews have also been found with cyproheptadine (an antihistimine and seratonin antagonist). Basic research has suggested that central seratonin systems are important in the regulation of feeding behavior. In brief, increased availability of seratonin in the hypothalamus tends to decrease food consumption. Therefore, this seratonin antagonist should be useful in increasing caloric intake. Of four major studies done by various doctors, only two showed modest benefits from active medication. This drug, however, significantly slowed the recovery of the bulimic subgroup of patients with Anorexia Nervosa. (Crow & Mitchell 376)

Flouxetine, another inhibitor of serotonin re-uptake, has been proven effective in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as depression. Different studies have shown that those patients who were administered flouxetine not only experienced an improvement in their depression but most gained weight as well. There are little if any side effects associated with this drug, and studies are pending as to its overall efficacy. (Hoffman & Halmi 769) A study done in 1991 by the University of Pittsburgh showed that flouxetine may help patients with anorexia nervosa maintain a healthy body weight as outpatients by improving eating behavior and/or reducing obsessionality, depression, and anxiety. It is stressed, however, that fluoxetine should not be used as the sole treatment. (Kaye et al.)

Other Drugs

Cisapride & Erythromycin- In primary anorexia nervosa, gastric motility is often impaired and ensuing symptoms further discourage eating. These drugs accelerate gastric emptying and thereby enhance gastric motor activity, thus alleviating the symptoms of gastric retention and changing eating behavior. There has been some clinical evidence of this theory, but it has not been proven to be totally effective. (Stacher et al)

Zinc Supplementation- Zinc Supplementation of anorexia nervosa has been reported to increase the weight gain of patients. This theory regarding the supplementation of zinc came about because of its association with weight loss, disorders of appetite and food intake, skin abnormalities, amenorrhea, and depression;the population most at risk for anorexia nervosa. Studies have shown that zinc supplementation of anorexia nervosa patients improved their weight gain and because of its low cost and low potential for side effects, it is a viable supplement to be considered with standard treatment. (Birmingham et al)


Many medications may be useful in treating certain patients with anorexia nervosa and its associated psychological disorders. However, it is difficult to predict who should receive which medication and how effective it will be. Furthermore, the potential for serious side effects must be carefully considered for patients who are very sick and emaciated. The importance of a comprehensive plan (family, behavioral, etc.) is the key here as no pharmacological treatment has been proven to be a cure for anorexia nervosa. In patients who have failed many other treatments, however, it is worthwhile to consider drug intervention a part of this comprehensive treatment plan.

Works Cited:

Hoffman,L. and Halmi, K., Psychopharmacology in the treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 16(4):767-78, 1993 Dec.

Walsh, B.T. and Devlin, MJ., The pharmacological treatment of eating disorders, Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 15(1):149-60, 1992 Mar.

Crow, SJ. and Mitchell, JE., Rational therapy of eating disorders, Drugs. 48(3):372-9, 1994 Sep.

Kaye WH., Weltzin TE., Hsu LK., and Bulik CM., An open trial of fluoxetine in patients with anorexia nervosa, Journal of Clinical Psychology. 52(11):464-71, 1991 Nov.

Stacher G., Abatzi-Wenzel TA., Wiesnagrotzki S., Bergmann H., Schneider C., Gaupmann G., Gastric emptying, body weight and symptoms in primary anorexia nervosa, British Journal of Psychiatry. 162:398-402, 1993 Mar.

Birmingham CL., Goldner EM., Bakan R., Controlled trial of zinc supplementation in anorexia nervosa, International Journal of Eating Disorders. 15(3):251-5, 1994 Apr.
Return to