Pharmacologic treatment of anorexia nervosa: where do we go from here?

Int J Eat Disord. 2005;37 Suppl:S60-3; discussion S87-9. doi: 10.1002/eat.20133.


Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a serious mental disorder, characterized by severely low weight and cognitive distortions about body shape and weight. AN is generally associated with a range of psychological symptoms, including depression, anxiety, obsessions, and rituals. The current study summarized findings from randomized controlled trials (RCT) using pharmacologic treatments in patients with AN. We conducted a review of literature using Medline. Several classes of pharmacologic agents have been studied in small samples of patients with acute AN without finding clear benefit to eating, weight, body shape concerns, or associated psychopathology. Studies have been limited by small sample sizes, as well as by research design with most studies adding medication to comprehensive hospital-based treatment programs. Future directions for pharmacologic treatment research in AN should include outpatient trials, rigorous study of atypical antipsychotic medication, and assessment of medication effect for relapse prevention in weight-restored patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa / drug therapy*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Narcotic Antagonists