Medications to Treat Binge Eating Disorder

Published on: 23 Nov 2021
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Have you been diagnosed with binge eating disorder (BED)? Are you looking for treatment options or an online psychiatrist to help in your recovery? Have you been recommended medication by your doctor? If so, we’re discussing everything you need to know about binge eating disorder medication here. 

Binge eating disorder can be treated by focusing on eating habits, self-esteem, and mental health issues, but in many cases, medication can be very successful. Whether it’s through therapy, medication, or a combination of the two techniques, recovery is possible. Studies show that more than 65% of people who seek treatment for binge eating disorder are eventually able to control their binge eating episodes. 

Read on to learn about medication for binge eating that’s commonly prescribed, how to be prescribed it, and more.  

Types of Medications Used to Treat Binge Eating Disorder

Multiple types of binge eating disorder treatment medication options have been found effective. Here is a list of some of the most common. 

Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse)

Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse) is used to treat binge eating disorder in adults. It was the first FDA-approved drug for binge eating disorder, though it’s not fully understood how it works. It’s believed that the drug helps control impulsive behavior that results in binge eating behavior. 

Common side effects of lisdexamfetamine dimesylate to treat BED:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss

Antidepressants

SSRIs

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressants. Sometimes they can be prescribed to treat binge eating disorder because of how they increase chemicals in your brain that can have an impact on appetite and mood if too low. SSRIs work by increasing serotonin — a known mood booster — in the brain. 

Commonly prescribed SSRIs for BED:
  • Prozac
  • Zoloft
  • Paxil
Possible side effects of SSRIs to treat BED: 
  • Agitation
  • Anxious
  • Feeling shaky or dizzy
  • Indigestion
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth

Anti-seizure medication (Topiramate)

Some anti-seizure drugs like topiramate (Topamax)at times prescribed for patients. Topiramate is used to help reduce the urge for binge eating. While it lowers some people’s appetites, it has been thought to affect chemicals in the brain that can contribute to binge eating. However, caution needs to be used, as serious side effects have been associated with the use of anti-seizure drugs for binge eating disorder.

Common side effects of topiramate to treat BED:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling in hands or feet
  • Bad taste in mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea

Medications Commonly Prescribed for Binge Eating Disorder

Studies have shown that people with binge eating disorder who take antidepressants are more likely to recover and stay in remission. Antidepressants can also help with depression that’s commonly associated with the eating disorder, too. It’s also important to note that antidepressants typically aren’t recommended for use on their own, or as the first treatment type for binge eating disorder. Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate is the first and only FDA-approved drug for binge eating, however, a number of off-label (not FDA approved for the prescribed condition) medications can also be successful. 

Some binge eating disorder medications might include: 

Name BrandGenericDescription
Prozac  FluoxetineThis is in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. It can help with the anxiety and depression that people with binge eating disorder commonly experience. 
PaxilParoxetineAn SSRI used to treat the symptoms of depression and other disorders. Can be used alone or with other medications. Restores balance of serotonin in the brain, which can help with the depression experienced by those who have binge eating disorder. 
ZoloftSertraline SSRI that’s used to treat depression and other mood disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, and more. Can help curb binge eating food consumption.
VyvanseLisdexamfetamineCan be effective in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and binge-eating disorder. 
TopamaxTopiramateAlso known as treatment for migraine and seizure prevention. Works to reduce the urge to binge. 

Talk to your psychiatrist or healthcare professional about the possible risks and benefits associated with the above medications before starting treatment.

How to Get Binge Eating Disorder Medication

Recovering from binge eating disorder happens in multiple stages. If you’re ready to begin or are already working with your psychiatry provider or doctor, you can begin tackling the condition. Therapy can help you change your thought processes to address your binge eating. If you’re considering medication, the following steps can help you get binge eating disorder medication to help you in your recovery. 

The first thing you should do if you’re thinking about medication for eating disorders of any kind is reach out to your licensed provider and let them know. If you haven’t already, you should consider starting therapy. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a commonly-used form of therapy to treat binge eating disorder. CBT can work in conjunction with medication, and typically the combination of the two treatments has better results than just medication alone. 

Your doctor may decide to prescribe medication if the therapy isn’t working on its own. Take your medication exactly as prescribed, and keep in close contact with your provider to ensure it’s working as it should and that you aren’t having any serious side effects. 

As with any prescription, consult your doctor before you try to stop taking your binge eating disorder medication.

  1. Get a diagnosis
    To be diagnosed, you’ll need a psychological evaluation and in-depth assessment of your eating habits.
  2. Begin therapy or treatment
    Therapy can be a key element in recovery from binge eating disorder. 
  3. Consider medication options
    Consider medication as an addition to your therapy. 
  4. Talk to a prescriber
    Your prescriber can help recommend the right medication for binge eating. 

Should You Treat Binge Eating Disorder with Medication? 

Deciding to take medication for eating disorders is a very personal decision. Any time you’re considering starting treatment, you need to weigh the benefits and negatives of your different options. With medication specifically, you always want to assess whether the pros outweigh the cons.

Ask about the side effects of any binge eating disorder medication your doctor is recommending. They will be a key part of your decision-making process. Consider: do the side effects outweigh any potential benefits of taking this medication? That obviously is a decision only you can make, which makes it even more important that you understand the potential side effects of any medication.

Questions to ask your doctor:

  • Should I consider medication to treat my binge eating disorder?
    Your doctor can help you weigh the pros and cons of any medication for binge eating disorder you’re considering. 
  • What are possible side effects of this medication?
    Understanding side effects can help you make the best decision in terms of if, or which, type of medication you might find the most beneficial.
  • Are there any other treatments I should be considering?
    Remember that medication doesn’t have to be your only form of treatment. When medication for binge eating is used in conjunction with therapy, many people find their recovery is more successful.
  • Should I consider treatment in conjunction with this medication?
    Ultimately, the form of treatment or treatments you and your doctor or healthcare professional decide on will be a unique, personal decision. The same treatment techniques may not be right for everyone.
  • Are there any holistic or self-help techniques I can try?
    Again, your doctor or mental healthcare provider can help you determine if there are any self-help techniques that might be worth exploring as you work towards your recovery. Nutrition counseling has been found beneficial, and other techniques like journaling or mindful meditation might also be successful in helping binge eating disorder recovery.
  • Should I consider therapy in addition to medication?
    When used together, therapy and medication have been found effective in helping people recover from binging disorder.
  • Are there any other conditions going on that could be contributing to a severe binge eating disorder?
    Often, eating disorders can be found in tandem with other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or others. You may find that it’s more than just a severe binge eating disorder that’s contributing to your relationship with food.

Holistic Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder

While medication treatment for binge eating disorder can be helpful, self-care habits like journaling, mindfulness, and a variety of the following therapy techniques are also recommended:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
    Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that focuses on identifying, challenging, and changing your thought processes and behaviors. It can be successful in improving emotional stability and regulation, as well as in helping you develop coping strategies so you can address your current issues. In the case of binge eating disorder, your therapy could dive into why you binge eat and how you can develop a healthy relationship with your food.
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)
    Interpersonal psychotherapy is an attachment-focused, evidence-based approach to therapy. It revolves around solving the interpersonal problems that interfere with your daily life. Interpersonal psychotherapy is a highly structured technique that can be completed in a matter of 3 to 4 months in many cases.
  • Weight loss therapy
    Weight loss therapy is a form of CBT. Entirely different from weight loss programs, it addresses the causes of binge eating disorder that you may be struggling to overcome. By identifying the reasons that you binge eat, you can begin to find healthier patterns to replace your desire to binge.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
    Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is another form of therapy aimed at finding the skills you need to help you regulate your emotions and better-manage your stress, so you can reduce the urge to binge eat.  

If you’ve explored various treatments for binge eating disorder and are ready to try medication, connect with an online prescriber at Talkspace today. 

Sources

1. Binge Eating Disorder. NEDA. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bed. Accessed October 10, 2021.

2. Binge Eating Disorder. NEDA. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-research-eating-disorders. Accessed October 10, 2021.

3. Hilbert A, Bishop ME, Stein RI, et al. Long-term efficacy of psychological treatments for binge eating disorder. Br J Psychiatry. 2012;200(3):232-237. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3290797/

4. Bilson J, Lapworth S. J.S. Athertya, G. Saravana Kumar, “Automatic segmentation of vertebral contours from CT images using fuzzy corners” [Comput. Biol. Med. 72 (May 1, 2016) 75–89, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27017068]. Comput Biol Med. 2017;85:24. doi:10.1016/j.compbiomed.2017.04.005

5. Leombruni P, Pierò A, Lavagnino L, Brustolin A, Campisi S, Fassino S. A randomized, double-blind trial comparing sertraline and fluoxetine 6-month treatment in obese patients with Binge Eating Disorder. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. 2008;32(6):1599-1605. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278584608001875#!6. Leombruni P,

6. Lavagnino L, Fassino S. Treatment of obese patients with binge eating disorder using topiramate: a review. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2009;5:385-392. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2714287/

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

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