Every day Sally vows she will not eat herself sick. But today is no different. She is distressed, eating past full and feeling as if she has no control. Sally suffers from Binge Eating Disorder (BED) which has been recognized as a psychiatric disorder.
To date, there are no medications approved for treating BED. But a recent study looked at using a medication known to treatment ADHD (Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) to also treat moderate to severe BED. The medication, Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate), was found to reduce binge eating days when given at higher doses (50-70 mg). The participants who took the drug also lost more weight and improved their functioning.
The concerns are that Vyvanse is a “highly addictive” schedule II amphetamine with the potential of a a number of adverse reactions. Patients have to weigh the risk of side effects with this type of treatment. Furthermore, this is only one study.
Right now, I would be cautious about recommending this as a treatment for BED. I don’t see a medication approach as the first line of defense in the treatment of this disorder. At least not at this point. Replication studies need to be conducted and other non medication approaches tried.
Binge Eating Disorder is typically treated with psychotherapy (Cognitive Behavior Therapy). Not only does a person need to reduce binges, but also learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food and eating. Medications do not teach those skills.
Will this be a helpful approach in the future? First, we need more studies. 2) We need to look at addiction rates 3) We need to track side effects as some are very serious.