Women with the binge and purge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, who respond to treatment with the antidepressant desipramine (Norpramin) within the first 2 weeks are likely to maintain that response over time, according to the findings of a new study.
“Numerous trials have demonstrated the efficacy of antidepressant medications for the treatment of bulimia nervosa,” Dr. B. Timothy Walsh, of Columbia University, New York, and colleagues point out in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.
They therefore examined whether an early response to antidepressants predicts response at the end of a controlled trial using data from two previously published studies of desipramine for bulimia.
Walsh’s group defined end-of-treatment response to desipramine as a reduction of at least 75 percent of binge eating or vomiting after 6 weeks.
After 6 weeks, 18 patients were classified as responders for binge eating and 15 were responders.
A large proportion of patients who failed to respond to treatment by the second week of treatment did not have a treatment response at week 6, the team reports.
These findings are similar to those of previous studies that looked at response to other antidepressants by bulimics. The investigators think it would be worthwhile to examine the pattern of response to fluoxetine and other widely used medications.
SOURCE: International Journal of Eating Disorders, January 2006.
Revision date: July 4, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD