Psychotropic drug treatment in anorexia nervosa. Search for differences in efficacy/tolerability between adolescent and mixed-age population

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2013 Sep;21(5):361-73. doi: 10.1002/erv.2240. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Background: During the last 10 years, the use of psychotropic medications in youth with psychiatric disorders, including eating disorders, has significantly increased, but their role in the treatment of adolescent anorexia nervosa is still controversial.

Objective: This paper aims to review the literature on the use of antidepressants and antipsychotics in adolescents with anorexia nervosa, comparing the efficacy and tolerability in this population with those reported in trials with patients not selected by age.

Method: A systematic review of the available literature published so far.

Results: Only few studies met the selection criteria. No strong evidence of beneficial effects was found in using antidepressants and antipsychotics neither in adults nor in adolescents. Side effects were more frequently reported in studies including adolescent population. Among psychotropic drugs, the majority of studies focused on olanzapine, which seems to have, in some studies, only positive effects on body mass index, eating disorder symptoms and functional impairment in both age groups.

Keywords: adolescent; adult; anorexia; antidepressants; antipsychotics; psychotropic drugs; review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / drug therapy*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Psychotropic Drugs / adverse effects
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Psychotropic Drugs