Amenorrhea in eating disorders: poor stability of symptom after a one-year treatment

G Abbate Daga, S Campisi, E Marzola, G Rocca, C Peris, C Campagnoli, A Peloso, S Vesco, R Rigardetto, S Fassino
Eating and Weight Disorders: EWD 2012, 17 (2): e78-85

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether patients with Eating Disorders (ED) who restore menses differ from those who remain amenorrheic after treatment and to provide longitudinal data about this debated criterion of Anorexia Nervosa (AN).

METHODS: 184 outpatients were recruited: 50 patients with AN Restrictive type, 75 amenorrheic Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) patients, 24 patients who recovered from AN with persistent amenorrhea, and 35 amenorrheic patients without ED. All participants were clinically assessed by psychiatrists and gynaecologists at the beginning of treatment and at the one-year follow-up. They also completed several psychometric tests: Eating Disorder Inventory-2, Temperament and Character Inventory, and Beck Depression Inventory.

RESULTS: After treatment, a large portion of the sample resumed menses but very few recovered completely from the ED. No psychopathological variables could clearly predict the recovery of menses in the different groups. However, Body Mass Index and some biological variables were associated with restoration of menses in ED patients.

CONCLUSION: Resumption of menses was not associated with a less severe eating symptomatology at the beginning of treatment nor with unequivocal psychopathological changes after treatment. It is important that clinicians consider not only the presence or absence of regular menses but also that they improve both ED screening and assessment in amenorrheic patients. Amenorrhea does not seem to represent a specific predictor of severity of illness or to show prognostic value.

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