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Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2012 Aug;14(4):398-405. doi: 10.1007/s11920-012-0287-6.

Antipsychotic agents in the treatment of anorexia nervosa: neuropsychopharmacologic rationale and evidence from controlled trials.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.


The search for an effective psychopharmacologic strategy in the treatment of anorexia nervosa (AN) has been elusive for decades and has run the gamut from reserpine to typical antipsychotics, to lithium, to tetrahydrocannabinol, to growth hormone, to anticonvulsants, to antidepressants, to atypical antipsychotics. Only recently has there arisen a potential "diamond in the rough" in the form of the atypical antipsychotic agent, olanzapine, which, in four randomized clinical trials, has shown superiority to placebo (two studies), chlorpromazine (one study), and aripiprazole (one study) in terms of weight gain and/or reduction in obsessional symptoms. The pharmacologic profile of olanzapine and other antipsychotic medications is discussed in light of the known pathophysiology of AN involving serotonin and dopamine systems, as well as brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

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