, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 139-156

Role of Antiepileptic Drugs in the Management of Eating Disorders

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Abstract

Growing evidence suggests that antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) may be useful in managing some eating disorders. In the present paper, we provide a brief overview of eating disorders, the rationale for using AEDs in the treatment of these disorders and review the data supporting the effectiveness of specific AEDs in the treatment of patients with eating disorders. In addition, the potential mechanisms of action of AEDs in these conditions are discussed.

Of the available AEDs, topiramate appears to have the broadest spectrum of action as an anti-binge eating, anti-purging and weight loss agent, as demonstrated in two placebo-controlled studies in bulimia nervosa and three placebo-controlled studies in binge-eating disorder (BED) with obesity. Topiramate may also have beneficial effects in night-eating syndrome and sleep-related eating disorder, but controlled trials in these conditions are needed. The results of one small controlled study suggest that zonisamide may have efficacy in BED with obesity. However, both topiramate and zonisamide are associated with adverse effect profiles that may limit their use in patients with eating disorders. Phenytoin may be effective in some patients with compulsive binge eating, particularly if co-morbid EEG abnormalities are present, but available data are too varied to allow definitive conclusions to be made. Carbamazepine and valproate may be effective in treating patients with bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa when they are used to treat an associated psychiatric (e.g. mood) or neurological (e.g. seizure) disorder; otherwise, both agents, particularly valproate, are associated with weight gain.

In conclusion, AEDs have an emerging role in the management of some eating disorders.