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February 1986

Treating Bulimia With Desipramine: A Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology (Drs Hughes and Wells and Ms Cunningham) and the Department of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology (Mr Ilstrup), Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minn.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(2):182-186. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800020092012

• A controlled study in patients with bulimia demonstrated a significant benefit from desipramine hydrochloride treatment (91% decrease in binge frequency) in contrast to the results from a placebo (19% increase in frequency). When patients originally taking the placebo crossed over to desipramine therapy, their frequency of binges decreased 84%, so that the overall improvement was 87% fewer binges. Global clinical status improved 3.5 scales, Zung depression scores improved 8.0 points, and a bulimia symptom scale improved 14.7 points. Fifteen (68%) of 22 patients attained complete abstinence from binge eating and purging. The presence or absence of previous episodes of anorexia nervosa did not influence the treatment response. One-month follow-up data indicated persistence of the benefit attained.