There’s a medication for almost every illness, and that’s true for mental illnesses,
including eating disorders. But how do they work, and how do they help? We’re
launching our fourth season of Butterfly: Let’s Talk with an investigation into
medications used to treat people with eating disorders, including some brand-new
developments that could offer hope.
“Many people with an eating disorder will be prescribed some kind of psychiatric
medication,” says psychiatrist Professor Richard Newton, who has been working in
the sector since the 1980s. “But most of those treatments will be for associated
concerns such as anxiety, depression, poor sleep, hearing voices, obsessive-
compulsive disorder, etc. They’re more adjunct interventions and are not for the
eating disorder itself.”
Having suffered from an eating disorder since age 11, Emma has tried
several different prescriptions. “I was first given a psychiatric medication when I
was 14,” she tells us. “It was an antidepressant, and it helped. It showed me that
there was something chemically not quite right.” Later, she was prescribed
antipsychotics, that she says also helped.
In this podcast, we talk about psilocybin, the psychedelic chemical associated with
magic mushrooms. "Psychedelic drugs offer an incredible way to access an altered state of consciousness that can change how people think about their behaviour,” says neurologist and researcher Dr Claire Foldi. While psilocybin is still
undergoing clinical trials, she's upbeat about its potential for eating disorders.
We also go into depth with Dr Kristi Griffiths, who has studied Vyvanse, a stimulant
traditionally prescribed for ADHD, now being used to treat people with Bulimia
Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. “In one randomized study," she says, "People
who took Vyvance over a set period had around a 4% relapse rate. That's a
pretty low rate.”
Listen to our experts and Emma, who believes that she is well into recovery thanks in part to her medications. Perhaps this episode will offer insights for you, your client’s or your loved one’s treatment plan.
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