Currently, there aren’t any pharmaceutical drugs approved for the treatment of binge eating disorder. However, the findings of recent preliminary research out of the US suggests this could potentially change in the near future.
According to the study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, a medication used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) may also be effective in treating binge eating disorder – a serious condition that causes sufferers to eat large amounts of food uncontrollably, without purging or over-exercising afterwards.
Over a period of 14 weeks, around 260 people with moderate to severe binge eating disorder were monitored. They were broken into four groups for the first 11 weeks – three groups were given varying doses of the AD/HD drug Vyvanese, while the fourth took placebo pills.
Those using the higher doses of Vyvanese (50mg and 70mg) reported a bigger reduction in the number of days they binged per week than those in the placebo group.
Furthermore, almost half of the participants in the 50mg dose group and 70mg dose group were able to stop bingeing for a month. Only a fifth of those using the placebo pills were about to do the same.
“This study adds to our toolbox in that we have another treatment potentially offered to people suffering binge eating disorder,” study author Denise E. Wilfley says, although the report iterates that more research is needed.
According to TIME, Vyvanese (lisdexamfetamine dimesylat) affects the two pathways in the brain that help to control rewards and control – the dopamine and norephinephrine systems. This is where the link between binge eating disorder and AD/HD potentially lies, as people living with these conditions tend to experience reward dysfunction and impulsive behaviour.
Generally speaking, binge eating disorder is treated through various therapies – these might include psychological treatments, cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy.
According to Suzanne Mazzeo, a US university professor in psychology, these therapies are preferable as first-line treatments for binge eating disorder because medications can have some severe side-effects.
“To my mind, psychotherapy, such as cognitive behaviour therapy, is preferable as it aims to help patients develop the crucial skills they need to better handle all the triggers in our environment that may otherwise pull them into a cycle of excessive eating,” she tells Web MD.
If this post brings up any issues for you, you can contact The Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders via their website (www.thebutterflyfoundation.org.au) or on their National Support Line (1800 33 4673).