Antipsychotics for Anorexia?

Anorexia patients did not show improved body weight after taking antipsychotics

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Antipsychotic medications are sometimes added to the treatment of people with anorexia because it is thought that they might improve symptoms and body weight.

When researchers looked at the previous reports using antipsychotics for the treatment of anorexia, they found that antipsychotics were not consistently helpful at increasing body weight or treating symptoms of anorexia.

"Ask your psychiatrist before changing your medications."

The study, led by Taro Kishi, MD, PhD, at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, reviewed published studies using antipsychotic medications for the treatment of anorexia.

They included eight published studies that were controlled trials, for a total of 221 patients. The researchers looked at the how well antipsychotics increased body weight compared to patients receiving placebo pill or other usual care.

The patients with anorexia who received an antipsychotic were taking either Zyprexa (olanzapine), Risperdal (ripseridone), Orap (pimozide), or Meresa (sulpride).

Researchers found that when all these studies were placed together, antipsychotic medication did not improve body weight, depressive symptoms, or other symptoms of anorexia.

Dropout rates were similar for people taking antipsychotics and placebo or care as usual. Sedation, or feeling slowed down, was more common in people taking medications than those on placebo or care as usual. Otherwise, side effects and adverse events were similar for both groups.

The number of people taking each individual type of antipsychotic was small, so the researchers could not determine if any one type of antipsychotic was better than the others.

The researchers concluded that their study was limited but that the results suggest that antipsychotics are not effective for improving body weight or symptoms in people with anorexia. More research is needed.

Meresa is not currently approved for sale in the US. The other antipsychotics included here are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other disorders, but none of them are currently approved for use in anorexia.

The FDA lists weight gain as a side effect for each of these antipsychotics.

The study was published in June in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Authors in this study report affiliations with Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bristol Meyers Squibb, and others.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 19, 2012
Last Updated:
February 12, 2013