Biological therapies for eating disorders

Int J Eat Disord. 2013 Jul;46(5):470-7. doi: 10.1002/eat.22104.


Objective: To provide a comprehensive review of pharmacotherapy and other biological treatments for eating disorders.

Method: Literature on this topic was systematically reviewed.

Results: The bulimia nervosa (BN) literature underscores the utility of antidepressants, particularly SSRIs, in improving the symptoms of the disorder. The literature on binge eating disorder supports efficacy on reduction in binge eating frequency for a variety of compounds. However, such compounds have only modest effects on weight. Certain antiepileptic agents such as topiramate, if tolerated, are probably more useful in terms of weight loss. The number of controlled trials in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) in particular has been quite small, and recent meta-analyses show disappointing results using atypical antipsychotics in AN.

Discussion: The pharmacological treatment of eating disorders remains an underdeveloped field although drug therapy clearly plays a role in the treatment of those with BN and binge eating disorder. Other biological therapies have not been adequately studied.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy
  • Humans


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents