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November 1984

Treatment of Bulimia With Phenelzine: A Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1984;41(11):1105-1109. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.01790220095015

• Twenty bulimic women of normal weight participated in a double-blind trial studying the effects of a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). Nine women received phenelzine sulfate and 11 received placebo. Although phenelzine's side effects were a problem, the phenelzine-treated patients reported significantly fewer binges per week and had a lower Eating Attitudes Test score. Five of the nine phenelzine-treated patients ceased binging entirely and the other four reduced their binge frequency by at least 50%; none of the 11 placebo-treated patients stopped binging and only two reduced their binge frequency by 50% or more. These data demonstrate that phenelzine is significantly more effective than placebo in the treatment of bulimic women of normal weight and suggest a place for MAOIs in the treatment of bulimic patients capable of maintaining a tyramine-free diet.

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