Methylphenidate treatment for bulimia nervosa associated with a cluster B personality disorder

Mae S. Sokol, Nicola S. Gray, Amy Goldstein, Walter H. Kaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Objectives: Psychotherapy and antidepressant medication are helpful to many patients with bulimia nervosa (BN). However, a substantial number of bulimics respond poorly to such treatments. Recent studies suggest that many of the poor responders have cluster B personality disorders. In some ways, the symptomatology of bulimics who have a comorbid cluster B disorder resembles that of patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In particular, individuals in both groups frequently have a high level of impulsivity. Such a resemblance raised the question of whether administration of methylphenidate (MPH), a drug used to treat ADHD, would have therapeutic effects in this subgroup of BN patients. Method: In a pilot study, we administered MPH to 2 patients with BN and cluster B traits and found beneficial effects. These patients had not responded to adequate trials of psychotherapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Results: MPH treatment was effective. Both Patients had decreased binging and purging. Discussion: MPH may be useful for bulimics with cluster B personality disorder who respond poorly to conventional treatment. Further studies of MPH administration may be worthwhile. Due to the potential risks, however, clinical treatment with this agent is not recommended at this time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-237
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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