Citalopram in the treatment of binge-eating
disorder: a placebo-controlled trial

McElroy SL, Hudson JI, Malhotra S,
Welge JA, Nelson EB, Keck PE Jr.
Division of Psychopharmacology
Research and Eating Disorders,
Department of Psychiatry,
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine,
Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0559, USA.
J Clin Psychiatry. 2003 Jul;64(7):807-13


BACKGROUND: Binge-eating disorder is a newly recognized eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating without compensatory weight loss behaviors. It commonly co-occurs with depressive disorders and obesity. Citalopram is a highly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of citalopram in the treatment of binge-eating disorder. METHOD: Thirty-eight outpatients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of binge-eating disorder were enrolled in the study between August 2000 and July 2001 and were randomly assigned to receive either citalopram (N = 19) or placebo (N = 19) in a 6-week, double-blind, flexible-dose (20-60 mg/day) study. The primary measure of efficacy was frequency of binge-eating episodes. Secondary measures included frequency of binge days, body mass index (BMI), weight, Clinical Global Impressions-Severity of Illness scale scores, Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale Modified for Binge Eating (YBOCS-BE) scores, Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) scores, and response categories. The outcome measures were analyzed using 2 random regression methods, with a time trend analysis (primary analysis) and an endpoint analysis. In addition, response categories were analyzed using an exact trend test. RESULTS: Compared with placebo-treated subjects, subjects receiving citalopram (mean dose of 57.9 mg/day) had a significantly greater rate of reduction in frequency of binge eating (p =.003), frequency of binge days (p <.001), BMI (p <.001), weight (p <.001), severity of illness (p =.028), and YBOCS-BE score (p =.007) and a marginally significant rate of reduction in HAM-D score (p =.053). Differences between groups in response categories were marginally significant (p =.068 for intent-to-treat analysis). CONCLUSION: In a 6-week, placebo-controlled, flexible-dose trial, citalopram was efficacious in reducing binge-eating frequency, weight, and severity of illness and was generally well tolerated in subjects with binge-eating disorder.
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