Reducing Symptoms in Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder Through Drug Treatment

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Reducing Symptoms in Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder Through Drug Treatment

Bulimia nervosa is a chronic psychiatric disorder that haunts the lives of many young women. The disorder is characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating followed by some sort of purging. The purging usually involves self-induced vomiting and can cause great damage to the body. Persons diagnosed with bulimia nervosa have a loss of control over these behaviors. Affecting the lives of 3-5% of young women, bulimia is a problem that is spinning out of control and nothing seems to be able to stop it. Binge eating disorder is another psychiatric disease that causes problems for many people. In this disorder, persons binge frequently but do not
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Vagal afferent nerve endings have serotonin-3 and serotonin-4 receptors whose activation have been known to cause nausea and vomiting. Serotonin therefore "may affect vagal function at both central and peripheral sites of action"(Rissanen et. al. 1998). In several studies, the serotonin uptake inhibitor fluoxotine has reduced the binge eating symptoms of bulimia. Fluoxetine is also used in the treatment of depression but a higher dosage is needed for effective treatment of bulimia. Thus, we can conclude that fluoxetine works differently on patients who suffer from bulimia and on patients who suffer from depression.

One study done with fluoxetine tested its effects on vagal function in 41 volunteer healthy women and 25 women with bulimia nervosa. The study attempted to evaluate cardiac vagal tone in women with bulimia compared to healthy women at baseline. After an eight week treatment with fluoxetine or placebo, the vagal tone, along with the severity of symptoms was reevaluated within and between the groups.

A nurse therapist measured the severity of the symptoms (binge eating, purging) throughout the study, and a research psychiatrist evaluated them at 0 and 8 weeks using a semi-structured interview. The severity of the symptoms was also self-rated by the patients upon entry and completion of the study.
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