Can a Common ADHD Drug Help Treat Binge Eating Disorder?

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Lisdexamfetamine. better known as Vyvanse.  Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Lisdexamfetamine. better known as Vyvanse.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Binge eating disorder is one of the most recently recognized eating disorders, characterized by bouts on seemingly uncontrollable eating which typically leads to guilt, shame, and obesity. However, researchers believe a drug commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may help treat the disorder, according to findings published in JAMA Psychiatry.

An 11-week clinical trial found lisdexamfetamine (branded as Vyvanse) contributed to fewer binge eating episodes, as well as an increase chance of avoiding binge eating for a four-week period. Participants also reported greater improvement in functioning and notable weight loss.

The findings help illustrate that binge eating disorder may be combatted through medication. Currently the condition is largely treated through psychotherapy and is known for being highly difficult to treat.

The study does have its limits however. Adverse reactions to the medication caused 6 of the 196 participants to withdraw from the study, and researchers excluded potential participants with a record of any other psychiatric condition.

Binge eating disorder is highly associated with other mental illnesses including a high risk of depression.

Participants who were administered a placebo also showed improvement, but those given lisdexamfetamine showed significantly more improvements. Those receiving a 50 mg or 70 mg doses went from experiencing an average of 4.5 days a week that included some binge eating to nearly no binge eating episodes over the course of the study.

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