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Atypical antipsychotics and anorexia nervosa: a review.

BACKGROUND: There is currently mixed opinion regarding the value of using atypical antipsychotics to treat anorexia nervosa (AN).

AIMS: To evaluate the literature on the use of atypical antipsychotics in AN.

METHOD: A review of all studies and clinical guidelines published before September 2009 involving use of an atypical antipsychotic in patients with AN. Analysis is by narrative synthesis.

RESULTS: Forty-three publications or study protocols were found, including four randomized-controlled trials, five open-label trials and 26 case reports. The most studied drugs were olanzapine, quetiapine and risperidone. Atypical antipsychotics appear safe and there is some evidence of positive effects on depression, anxiety and core eating disordered psychopathology in patients with anorexia nervosa. Currently there is insufficient evidence to confirm atypical antipsychotics enhance weight gain in this setting.

CONCLUSIONS: Further high quality evidence is needed in this area in order to provide practical guidance to clinicians. However, the main challenge is to persuade adequate numbers of AN patients to participate in research trials.

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