Treating Binge Eating Disorder is not a realm where medication-assisted treatment is common. While medication can support co-occurring disorders, less information is known about whether or not medication specifically treats the eating disorder behavior alone.
This has recently changed, as research has begun to find certain medications effective in treating Binge Eating Disorder (BED), specifically.
Treating Binge Eating Disorder with Vyvanse (Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate)
The technical term for the most common pharmacological BED treatment is lisdexamfetamine dimesylate. However, to save you a lot of tongue-twisters, we’ll refer to this drug as Vyvanse in this blog. Just know that, if you read or hear of lisdexamfetamine, it is the same thing.
This drug is a central nervous system stimulant that was approved to treat both children and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in 2007.
Researchers began to study the effectiveness of Vyvanse for Binge Eating Disorder with promising results, indicating that individuals with BED “experienced a decrease in the number of binge eating days per week and had fewer obsessive-compulsive binge eating behaviors than those in the control group .”
Researchers hypothesize that the mechanism behind this success is related to the neurological foundations of binge eating behaviors and how Vyvanse alters this neurology.
The psychological underpinnings of BED should still be considered in treatment. However, and many critique the use of Vyvanse, it does not address these issues. Therefore, once the individual stops taking the medication, relapse is common because there are aspects of the disorder that have not been dealt with .
There are other negative side effects of Vyvanse that could be cause for concern, such as “decreased appetite, dry mouth, increased heart rate or blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, feeling jittery, and even sudden death among people with heart problems .”
Vyvanse can also cause psychotic or manic symptoms, even in individuals with no previous history .
Because of its effects, Vyvanse also has a high potential for abuse, and it wouldn’t be advisable to prescribe to individuals with addiction or a history of substance abuse .
Researchers continue to seek more information on the effect, positive or negative, that Vyvanse has on treating BED.
Fluoxetine and BED Treatment
Fluoxetine, more commonly known as Prozac, is another pharmaceutical drug that is FDA-approved to treat eating disorders. However, the eating disorder it is approved to treat is Bulimia Nervosa, not BED.
Even so, researchers are looking into how this drug can be used to treat BED and have seen success.
The use of Fluoxetine has “led to greater rates of reduction in target binge eating, psychiatric, and weight symptoms than placebo” and “showed significantly higher binge eating remission rates .”
It is important to note that research also indicates Fluoxetine is more effective when paired with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which addresses the behavioral underpinnings of BED mentioned earlier .
Pharmacological treatment for BED can be hugely beneficial when it comes to how neurobiology and co-occurring disorders impact binge eating disorder. However, it seems clear that the most effective treatment involves both medication-management and therapy.
 Hanlon, P. (2015). FDA approves drug to treat binge eating. New England Psychologist, retrieved from https://www.waldeneatingdisorders.com/blog/fda-drug-binge-eating/.
 Carcieri, E. M. (2015). Look before you leap: binge-eating disorder, Vyvanse, and evidence-based psychotherapies. Eating Disorder Therapy LA. Retrieved from https://www.eatingdisordertherapyla.com/look-before-you-leap-binge-eating-disorder-vyvanse-and-evidence-based-psychotherapies/.
 McElroy, S. L. et al. (2012). Pharmacological management of binge eating disorder: current and emerging treatment options. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 8: 219-241.
About the Author:
Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a 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.
Published February 13, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on February 13, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC