Medication Management for OSFED

Contributor: Courtney Howard, BA, writer for Eating Disorder Hope

There are many treatment options available to those with eating disorders. While prescription medication alone will not “cure” an individual of his or her eating disorder, it can help with symptom management so that psychotherapy and other treatment components are more effective.

Other specified feeding and eating disorder (OSFED) includes all eating disorders that do not fit the diagnostic criteria for the others listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Medications to Reduce Bingeing and/or Purging

There are no prescription drugs specifically designated to treat OSFED, but there are many that have proven effective in managing eating disorder symptoms, including binge eating and purging.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressants that have proven to reduce bingeing and purging behaviors. These drugs can also work on a number of symptoms from depression to anxiety and obsessive-compulsive thoughts. Fluoxetine, or Prozac, is one of the SSRIs most commonly prescribed for bulimia nervosa.

On January 30, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, or Vyvanse, for the treatment of binge eating disorder (BED). This central nervous system (CNS) stimulant has proven to reduce binge eating episodes, and might be effective for individuals with OSFED who exhibit related behaviors. SSRIs, anticonvulsants, and appetite suppressants are also prescribed for BED, but Vyvanse remains the only medication FDA-approved for this purpose.

Prescription Drugs and Restriction

tablet-428328_640Though medications can curb the prevalence of bingeing and purging, the same has not proven true of its effects on an individual’s restrictive tendencies. However, prescription drugs can be used to manage co-occurring anxiety, depression, and related conditions to support the recovery of those with OSFED whose primary behavior is restriction.

As a 2005 scholarly article [1] on the pharmacological treatment of eating disorders confirms, “Patients with anorexia nervosa [symptoms] benefit mainly from psychotherapy, and medications should only be used as adjunctive treatment.”

Finding the Right Medication

Happy young man sitting on meadowMany people with eating disorders, including OSFED, are hesitant to begin taking medication. This is largely because of the stigma that remains attached to prescription drugs for purposes of mental health. If you find the right medication for you, it will help manage your disordered thoughts and behaviors without changing who you are as a person.

Though medication is not always necessary for recovery, it is often an integral part of an individual’s treatment. Determining the best medication and dosage for you can be a process. If a prescription drug’s side effects outweigh the benefit they are having in your recovery, notify your psychiatrist immediately to switch the dosage or find an alternative medication.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What types of medication have you utilized in your recovery from OSFED, what has worked well and what has not?

Courtney Howard photoAbout the Author: Courtney Howard is a Certified Life Coach specializing in eating disorders through Lionheart Eating Disorder Recovery Coaching. As a content writer at the Sovereign Health Group while writing freelance through Eating Disorder Hope, Courtney is a passionate advocate for recovery and works to fight the stigma surrounding all mental health disorders. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from San Diego State University, holds a paralegal certificate in Family Law, and is a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate.


[1]: Gorla, K., & Mathews, M. (2005). Pharmacological Treatment of Eating Disorders. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 2(6), 43–48.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 15, 2016
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