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Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a serious psychiatric illness associated with significant morbidity and mortality. There is little empirical support for specific treatments and new approaches are sorely needed. This two-site study aimed to determine whether olanzapine is superior to placebo in increasing body mass index (BMI) and improving psychological symptoms in out-patients with AN.
A total of 23 individuals with AN were randomly assigned in double-blind fashion to receive olanzapine or placebo for 8 weeks together with medication management sessions that emphasized compliance. Weight, other physical assessments and measures of psychopathology were collected.
End-of-treatment BMI, with initial BMI as a covariate, was significantly greater in the group receiving olanzapine [F(1, 20)=6.64, p=0.018]. Psychological symptoms improved in both groups, but there were no statistically significant group differences. Of the 23 participants, 17 (74%) completed the 8-week trial. Participants tolerated the medication well with sedation being the only frequent side effect and no adverse metabolic effects were noted.
This small study suggests that olanzapine is generally well tolerated by, and may provide more benefit than placebo for out-patients with AN. Further study is indicated to determine whether olanzapine may affect psychological symptoms in addition to BMI.
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