Medication for eating disorders blog 2: Will medication change me?

By Deborah Etienne-Ward

This second article in the Medications for Eating Disorders series aims to address the common concern of:

pic1“Will medications make me feel spaced out?”… “Will I still be myself?”

One of the largest concerns that people often have about taking psychotropic medication is a fear that they will get a foggy mind, feel spaced out, lose their personality, and have a lack of interest in enjoyed activities. Many are concerned that these effects will impact their social and occupational functioning.

All of these concerns fall under the side effect of sedation. Although it does not occur for everyone, sedation is a possible side effect associated with the use of anti-psychotics (Muench, & Hamer, 2010), and benzodiazepines (Buffett-Jerrott, & Stewart, 2002).

As was mentioned in the first blog of the medication series, anti-psychotics and benzodiazepines are generally only prescribed to people with eating disorders if they have Anorexia Nervosa. Specifically, antipsychotics are often used to reduce: obsessive-compulsive thoughts, aggression, persistence, and interpersonal distrust (Brewerton, 2012). Benzodiazepines can be useful to decrease anxiety around re-feeding (Kruger & Kennedy, 2000).

pic2Although sedation is a valid concern about the use of psychotropic medication, the problem is that regardless of whether people are taking psychotropic medications or not, Anorexia Nervosa can, and if not treated will impact on one’s social and occupational functioning. Moreover, due to pre-occupation with weight and shape, Anorexia Nervosa does also lead people to lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.

Therefore, if these medications can help you recover from Anorexia Nervosa they may actually provide more benefit than harm, in that recovery will allow you to re-connect with your previously enjoyed activities and allow you to function at work/school and socialise with family and friends. According to BodyMatters Psychologist and Director Sarah McMahon, whilst many people are initially reluctant to try psychotropic medication they do not regret it as they often report that the benefits of medication far outweigh the side effects.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is general only and individual advice regarding psychotropic medication should be sought from your GP or psychiatrist.


Brewerton, T.D., Antipsychotic Agents in the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa: Neuropsychpharmacologic Rationale and Evidence from Controlled Trials. Current Psychiatry Reports. 14, 398-405.

Buffett-Jerrott, S.E., & Stewart, .H. (2002). Cognitive and Sedative Effects of Benzodiazepine Use. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 8, 45-58. doi: 10.2174/1381612023396654

Kruger, S., & Kennedy, S.H. (2000). Psychopharmacotherapy of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 25(5), 497-508.

Muench, J. & Hamer, A.M. (2010).Adverse Effects of Antipsychotic Medications. American Family Physician, 81(5), 617-622.

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