Medication and Eating Disorders: Should you try em’?

About mamaV

Former Paris model providing advice for eating disorder sufferers who aspire to be thin, follow the proana lifestyle, and lack self esteem.
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20 Responses to Medication and Eating Disorders: Should you try em’?

  1. Kris says:

    YES! Sometimes the underlying problem that caused the eating disorder does require medication! But, may I urge you to see a psychiatrist and NOT a general practitioner? A psych provider will have the knowledge to properly diagnose you… is it anxiety disorder, is it depression, is it bipolar disorder or a combo of those? A GP will not have that expertise nor the knowledge of the psych meds. And you NEED to be monitored. You will go month to month on your meds until you find the right combo. We found that the GP just wrote a script for 6 months and THEN did the follow-up. A psych provider will see you on a monthly basis, recheck your progress (or lack thereof) and tweek what needs to be tweeked. Psych meds AND a good therapist saved someone that I love very much. She is still in recovery, but, so so so much farther than she would have been on her own.

    Much love to all!!

    Kris <

    • mamaV says:

      Agreed 100% (missed this important part!)

      These drugs are prescribed by general practitioners, and I believe that is what gave them a bad name. Only licensed Psychiatrists have the expertise needed to evaluate your symptoms, go through trial and error with types of medication, and recognize warning signs.

      I think going to a “Psychiatrist,” scares some, makes you fell like “wow, I must really have a problem if I need to see a shrink.” As I mentioned in the video, get over this. Your mental health is equally, if not more important than your physical health — but unfortunately our society does not treat it that way.

  2. amber says:

    If head meds weren’t so notorious for causing weight gain a lot of people would have tried them by now.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi Amber: I think this is a misnomer, in fact there are certain drugs they will not give to ED patients because they are known to suppress appetite. I was on one of them and it caused me to lose weight.

      Please don’t let this be a reason why you don’t seek more information on the medication route. Find a Pych you can trust, and then see what they have to say about your condition.

  3. Natalie says:

    I tried them but my dumb arse GP (doctor is England) wouldnt put me on the dosage my outpatient ED unit recomended. Even though the posage is clearly stated on the N.I.C.E (people who set the rules of health care in the UK) website. So i can’t get the dosage I need. The dosage he was willing to put me on…. did nothing!!

  4. Kris says:

    Amber, there are a few meds that DO NOT add weight. I can think of a few bipolar meds that do not (Geodon & Lamital) and Effexor XR is great for depression and has a low weight gain. But, when you really think about getting WELL, a little weight gain is inevitable.

  5. Kris says:

    *Lamictal not Lamital…lol

    • anonymous says:

      First off, I am glad Mama V braved this topic. There is nothing wrong with seeing a psychiatrist for psych meds at all.

      And Amber, I’m sorry, but I am with Kris on if there is one that can cause weight gain and you happen to suffer from Anorexia, then your comment is a little counter- productive, no?

      As a person who has sturggled with Anorexia for years and relapsed at 33- doing fine now, thank GOD. From the time I was 13 through my early 30’s- I was on every freaking drug out there in all kinds of psych wards throughout many hospitalizations for Anorexia in my teens. Back in the early eighties, not much was known about things like Zoloft, Prozac, etc, except that they were the alleged wonder drugs to cure us. All those drugs as a teen did was make me have an adverse reaction and make me suicidal- something I had never been before until I was on them.

      Thankfully, we know more about teenagers taking anti-depressants that can have an adverse affect and psychiatrists are far more careful about dispensing them so freely. kris is right- go to a highly qualified psychiatrist.

      But if there is one thing I can tell you it’s that I’ve been on everything you can imagine in the entire pharmaceutical handbook and not one single drug has ever made me gain weight. The drugs may have helped when they found the right one and combination to alleviate depression or anxiety, but they did nothining to comabt my eating disorded thinking. Only cognitive behavioral therapy did.

      That’s just how powerful this illness can be that takes over your head. I do not knock medication at all for depression or anxiety, it has been very helpful for me. I take Kolonpin as needed for anxiety, but nothing else because I have found it not necessary at this point.

      Mama V- I am not sure if you are aware of this, but I know this from reknowed experts at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital I participated in studies with in thier Ed research Unit, that there has been no medication proven effective for Anorexia- only bulimia. That doesn’t mean people with Anorexia should not consider medication to help their mood, but I think you would find these studies and comparrison interesting if you look at their website and the studies Columbia has done on this subject.

      • mamaV says:

        Hi Anon: Thanks for the insight. Your commentary reflects the reality that meds impact every individual differently — vastly differently.

        This is why I tend to take a “try it” approach IF you have done due diligence with cognitive behavioral therapy (6 looonnngggg years for me), natural treatments (yoga/meditation), and others.

        I would like to take a look at the research you refer to, can you post a link?


  6. dogs says:

    i have to disagree with mama v. I suffer from an eating disorder and have been hospitalized. they put me on so many drugs that it caused me to have a psychotic break and it was only after they took me off them i was ok again. I am an outpatient now. I am one a combination of 2 drugs now. Iwould agree that they help my anxiety and depression but they also increase my appetite alot, which leads to bingeing and weight gain and basically the same viscious circle as before. Another point i have to make is the psychiatrists in my experience will put you on one drug. This drug may have the side effect of not being able to sleep so they put you on another drug aswell to help you sleep. So you end up on 2 different drugs then 3 and so on. So basically i am saying for some people medication can be great. For others, not so great. I have spoken with plenty of people who have had the same experience as me with medication and others like mamav it has worked for.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi dogs: I hear you and I am with you. I take Klonapin to sleep. Bugs the crap out of me, tried like hell to get off it, but I have basically resigned myself to the fact that the positives outweigh the negatives (sleep with drugs vs no sleep with no drugs).

      This whole decision needs to be evaluated on so many levels –

      Experience of doctor
      Your personal side effects
      Your personal genetic make up
      Your personal experience with the disease
      And I am sure many other factors

      Trust me, if I could see a day in the future that I would be off meds, I would be happy, but the truth is, I am a lifer. I know it. I know it because of the changes in myself that now make me who I really am supposed to be — a person who can focus, listen, be reasonable, and be present (rather than the paranoid freakazoid I was 😉

      I never want to go back to that “old” me, it was too damn exausting to be in that head. And as I mentioned above, I will take 20 years like this, rather than 40 years as I was.

      The purpose of this is not to encourage everyone to start popping pills, its instead to help those who are afraid of trying them to have an open mind. If you have been there, done that, and it sucked…. then no need to revisit it.

  7. Nats says:

    the video keeps stalling and stopping, is anyone else having the same problem??

    • anonymous says:

      I agree with all of you that medication works differently for everyone. I too had my adversre reactions but they found medication I still take that does help with anxiety.

      What I am saying is that any medication I have been on never helped with my eating disorder- And for whatever reason, (The top researchers in the world that I know who have lead these studies) antidepressant meds or anxiety meds were more successful in helping with the actual symptoms of bulimia than anorexia. I don’t know why this is. They don’t even know, but I know they work tirelessly in trying to find something that can help because Anorexia has such a high relapse rate. I don’t knock and still use medicine for anxiety, but as far as helping my ed, it never did and never has. Only thing that has is motivation and lots of couch time, and even then, I still struggle. Mama V, I will post some links. I don’t know if all of them let you see the actual results if you don’t pay for them, but I can send you some examples of what I am referring to about the types of studies Colunbia does and some ask an expert questions.

  8. anonymous says:

    I did try to post the links, but I never saw them show? Is there a reply problem glitch again?

  9. lostgirl says:

    I think it’s important that people realize that with medications come a lot of risks. Being dependent/addicted (yes, it happens often) to klonopin or other benzos may not be a problem for those who don’t mind taking meds the rest of their life. But what about women of childbearing age that may want to get pregnant? You can’t take any drug without some risk to the baby. The new antidepressants are often extremely difficult to come off of. Much has been written about this. Many studies also show that antidepressants don’t work any better then placebo. Additionally, many of the newer drugs cause things like diabetes, high lipids and tardive dyskinesia, which is an often permanent movement disorder. After having met a woman with this disorder, I decided I’d rather deal with mood issues without meds then take the risks of the meds. I had my own difficulties with meds, including cognitive impairment (a known side effect of mood stabilizers and other meds) which affected my work as a college student. That’s a big price to pay for some modest effects on mood.

    Perhaps some will, as you do mamaV, decide that the benefits are worth the risks. But how many people are truly aware of the risks? These aren’t benign medications. They are powerful drugs and science still doesn’t really know how they work or what they do to the brain.

    I’m all for free choice when it comes to meds. They are the right choice for some, and not the right choice for others. But I think people need to make sure they are completely informed of the risks before trying psych meds.

  10. The_Timekeeper says:

    Underscoring what has been said about lack of proven therapeutic value of any medication for anorexia and potential benefit for bulimia (underscored, I think, by recent neuroscience that seems to show distinct biological differences in the disorders).

    As also has been said, co-morbid conditions may benefit from medication … but, low-weight patients tend to experience more/more pronounced negative side effects.

    I have been an inpatient in programs where all patients are universally placed on medications and in other programs where patients are mostly not medicated (and are actually tapered/discontinued from intake meds) until and unless they are weight-restored and still show signs of needing psychiatric medications.

    There are many studies that have been published (especially in the past year) that illustrate many of the psychiatric and psychological symptoms of eating disorders are secondary to the disorder and malnutrition … and resolve/improve upon nutrition restoration and behavioral abstinence (from ED behaviors that could cause or exacerbate psychological states … i.e., diet pills, excessive caffeine, laxatives, purging, dehydration, sleep disturbance, etc.)

    A major, comprehensive overview of effective treatment modalities/lack thereof was published under Bulik et. al sometime last summer.

    It has been my experience that some providers prescribe psych meds *for* the side effects … weight gain (or loss), appetite stimulant (or suppression), somnolence(for sleep).

    One treatment program told patients Zyprexa (an anti-psychotic notorious for both weight gain and metabolic side effects) was a “sleeping pill” … and, indeed, it does make one quite sleepy. It also has been part of research for effectiveness in anorexia and reduced obsessionality/thought-weight pre-occupation. Another program director puts all patients on mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics because he sees eating disorders as being akin to a psychosis and believes a mood disorder is underlying all eating disorders. Another program subscribes to the idea that all patients with eating disorders are depressed. I *do* think the medications used in bulimia can help with impulse control, but there is no comparable medication to help loosen harm-avoidance and other restraint traits in anorexia.

    I believe anti-anxiolytics, esp. benzos, have a place in helping patients tolerate treatment and treatment phases. I don’t believe in benzo use (or any medication) for sleep … they will only work to the point of tolerance, requiring increasing doses for effectiveness or establishing a tolerance that makes for difficult withdrawal. Benzos are also depressants. I also don’t believe in regular and long-term use of benzos. That said, prn use of anxiety medications seems reasonable.

    I believe “lifer” use of medications is important in some psychiatric conditions, but I don’t believe eating disorders, as stand-alone conditions, are among those diagnoses. I believe patients should have the right to take medications they find helpful and don’t judge Mama’s klonipin use … but we still don’t have evidence-based research supporting widespread use of any particular medication for anorexia.

  11. anonymous says:

    Exactly my point!

  12. Angel says:

    I have had dozens of severe endogenous depressions. I have my GP who is an internist prescribe my meds, but it’s what I’ve taken for years. I take Wellbutrin. It says there is an increased seizure risk for people with a history of ED’s but my original psychiatrist took a calculated risk with it (he knew I would probably become bulimic again if I gained weight) and I haven’t had any issues with it for the past decade plus. I go on higher doses when I’m worse like in the winter and lower during the summer. And I use holistic things like walking, fish oil, meditation, and reiki energy healing.

  13. gabi says:

    im on meds…. 3 different types, 100 mgs of each type. i love my meds…. possibly abuse them cos i love them and im a junkie as well. they knock me out which means when im feeling depressed i can just take them and sleep the day away, i dont feel anxious on them, or suicidal (most of time), im not psychotic on them, and best of all they have helped straight jacket my need to physiological purge.

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