Psychotropic usage by patients presenting to an academic eating disorders program

Karuna Mizusaki, Daniel Gih, Christina LaRosa, Rebekah Richmond, Renee D. Rienecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: To assess psychotropic use patterns and possible associations with age, eating disorder diagnosis and psychiatric comorbidity in adolescents and young adults with a primary eating disorder. Methods: A retrospective chart review of 86 consecutive patients with a primary eating disorder from August 2012 to December 2014 was conducted. Patients presented for a multidisciplinary evaluation at a United States-based academic program for eating disorders. Results: Nearly half (45.3%) of the patients reported being on a psychotropic medication. Antidepressants were the most reported category, prescribed in 38.4% of the patients evaluated. There was a significant association between the type of eating disorder and the number of psychotropics prescribed. Patients with a diagnosis of other specified feeding or eating disorder reported more prescriptions upon presentation than patients with anorexia nervosa. Despite the finding that a significant minority of patients had a psychiatric comorbidity, this did not appear to increase the likelihood of psychotropic usage over those diagnosed with an eating disorder alone. In addition, patients with a longer duration of illness and patients with a history of non-suicidal self-injury were more likely to present to treatment on psychotropic medications. Conclusions: Psychotropic medications appear to be commonly prescribed among individuals evaluated in a tertiary care center for an eating disorder. Given that psychotropics are not recommended as the primary intervention for eating disorders, the frequency may be indicative of practitioners not following research-informed practice guidelines. The differences observed may also reflect complexities related to clinical features or illness history. Level of evidence: Level V: Descriptive study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-774
Number of pages6
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Adolescents
  • Eating disorders
  • Medication
  • Psychotropic usage
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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