What is the role of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of anorexia nervosa?

Updated: Jun 10, 2019
  • Author: Bettina E Bernstein, DO; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been shown to be beneficial in patients with bulimia nervosa but not anorexia. However, since many patients with anorexia have concurrent mood disorders, medication may be of benefit.

In patients with anorexia nervosa who have attained 85% of their expected weight, the SSRI fluoxetine has been used to stabilize recovery. Zinc and cyproheptadine have not been useful. SSRIs and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may be more helpful for addressing concurrent obsessive-compulsive issues and, owing to their relative neutral effect on weight, may be more easily accepted by the patient.

SSRIs are greatly preferred over the other classes of antidepressants. [133] Because the adverse effect profile of SSRIs is less prominent, improved compliance is promoted. SSRIs do not have the cardiac arrhythmia risk associated with tricyclic antidepressants. Arrhythmia risk is especially pertinent in overdose, and suicide risk must always be considered in the treatment of a child or adolescent with a mood disorder.

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