Citalopram versus fluoxetine for the treatment of patients with bulimia nervosa: a single-blind randomized controlled trial

Adv Ther. 2006 May-Jun;23(3):481-94. doi: 10.1007/BF02850170.


The most studied and most frequently used pharmacologic treatments in bulimia nervosa are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), in particular, fluoxetine. Less is known about the efficacy of the other SSRIs. To compare fluoxetine with citalopram in the treatment of bulimic patients, 37 bulimic patients were randomized to receive fluoxetine (n=18) or citalopram (n=19); these patients were assessed with regard to clinical (ie, body mass index, pathologic behaviors), psychopathologic (Eating Disorder Inventory-2, Body Shape Questionnaire, Binge-Eating Scale, Beck Depression Inventory), personality (Temperament and Character Inventory), and clinical global impression measures. These measures were compared between the 2 treatment groups at baseline and at the end of treatment. Dropout rates were similar in the 2 groups. Both groups showed significant improvement in eating psychopathology, angry feelings, and clinical global impression. Patients in the fluoxetine group displayed a greater reduction in introjected anger, whereas those in the citalopram group displayed a greater reduction in depressive feelings. Both treatments showed some effect on outcome measures, but efficacy profiles did not overlap. Citalopram may be useful in depressed patients with bulimia, whereas fluoxetine is more specific for those with introjected anger and bulimia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / therapeutic use*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / drug therapy*
  • Citalopram / administration & dosage
  • Citalopram / adverse effects
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fluoxetine / administration & dosage
  • Fluoxetine / adverse effects
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine
  • Citalopram