Treating anorexia often requires a multi-faceted approach. Patients benefit from psychotherapy and dietary counseling. Often, the treatment plan involves the use of one or more medications, too. Here are some of the most common medications prescribed as a part of an anorexia treatment plan.
Cyproheptadine is an antihistamine medication that is primarily used for the treatment of allergies. However, it has also been used to help patients with anorexia nervosa gain weight. It is most often prescribed to patients who enter treatment severely underweight and need to gain weight rapidly in order to avoid death and other serious complications. Cyproheptadine initially makes patients feel quite sleepy, but this effect decreases after a few days. It stimulates appetite and can help restore the hunger response in patients who have lost theirs.
Megestrol is a form of estrogen supplement. It is often prescribed to female patients with anorexia who have lost their period. Not only will megestrol help an anorexic patient get their period back, but it can also help them avoid the loss of bone density that often comes as a consequence of anorexia. Plus, megestrol can have some appetite-stimulating properties, which can help patients ease their way back into eating normal portions. Side effects include acne breakouts and mood swings, but these are not usually serious enough to negate the medication's benefits.
Dronabinol is most often prescribed to cancer patients dealing with nausea. However, some doctors also include it as a part of a treatment plan for anorexia patients. It basically helps boost the appetite and encourage weight gain. Dronabinol is derived from cannabis, which makes many patients feel more comfortable taking it. Most patients take several doses per day, one before each meal. Dronabinol doesn't usually cause any serious side effects, but it can cause some drowsiness. Sometimes this is actually a benefit. Anorexic patients who struggle to sleep well often benefit from dronabinol.
Fluoxetine is an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. It basically increases the amount of serotonin floating around between your nerves, which can help combat feelings of depression. Anorexia and depression often go hand-in-hand, so fluoxetine is often prescribed to anorexic patients who have a lot of depressive symptoms. It tends to help patients maintain a more positive mindset so that they can start working through the trauma that underlies their eating disorder.
Anorexia is a complex condition, and it generally requires a complex treatment plan. Talk to your doctor to learn more about these and other medications that might be helpful parts of an anorexia treatment plan.