Double-blind placebo-controlled administration of fluoxetine in restricting- and restricting-purging-type anorexia nervosa

Biol Psychiatry. 2001 Apr 1;49(7):644-52. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(00)01013-1.


Background: Anorexia nervosa is an often chronic disorder with high morbidity and mortality. Many people relapse after weight restoration. This study was designed to determine whether a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor would improve outcome and reduce relapse after weight restoration by contributing to maintenance of a healthy normal weight and a reduction of symptoms.

Methods: We administered a double-blind placebo-controlled trial of fluoxetine to 35 patients with restricting-type anorexia nervosa. Anorexics were randomly assigned to fluoxetine (n = 16) or a placebo (n = 19) after inpatient weight gain and then were observed as outpatients for 1 year.

Results: Ten of 16 (63%) subjects remained on fluoxetine for a year, whereas only three of 19 (16%) remained on the placebo for a year (p =.006). Those subjects remaining on fluoxetine for a year had reduced relapse as determined by a significant increase in weight and reduction in symptoms.

Conclusions: This study offers preliminary evidence that fluoxetine may be useful in improving outcome and preventing relapse of patients with anorexia nervosa after weight restoration.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / drug therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / administration & dosage
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Gain


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine