Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Hydroxyzine in the Treatment of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder in Children and Adolescents: Rationale and Evidence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Despite lack of evidence, various pharmacological agents are judiciously used to manage anxiety in avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). We aimed to explore the effectiveness of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), either alone or in combination with hydroxyzine, in a well-defined cohort of children and adolescents with ARFID receiving treatment in a partial hospitalization program for eating disorders. Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of 53 patients with ARFID who were prescribed an SSRI (n = 39) or SSRI with hydroxyzine (n = 14). We investigated changes from admission to discharge in these two medication groups on various outcome measures assessing weight, eating behaviors, mood, anxiety, and fears about food. Results: Participants in the SSRI+hydroxyzine group were significantly older than those in the SSRI only group. The majority of participants in both groups exhibited the fear presentation of ARFID. Repeated-measures analysis of variance yielded a significant main effect for treatment for all outcome measures, indicating that patients in both groups experienced improvements in weight, eating behaviors, mood, anxiety, and fears of food. A significant main effect for medication group emerged on the Children's Depression Inventory, suggesting that the group receiving SSRI+hydroxyzine experienced greater depressive symptomatology than the SSRI-only group. We did not find any significant interactions, indicating that participants in both medication groups experienced similar improvements over the course of treatment. Conclusion: These results provide preliminary evidence that SSRIs and hydroxyzine may be helpful in the treatment of children and adolescents with ARFID. Given that hydroxyzine was prescribed to patients who experienced high pre- and/or postmeal anxiety, it possibly contributed to similar decreases in anxiety and fear of food in a more challenging subset of patients. Randomized, placebo-controlled studies for children and adolescents with ARFID are warranted to better evaluate and understand the efficacy of SSRIs and hydroxyzine in this clinical population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-121
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Hydroxyzine in the Treatment of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder in Children and Adolescents: Rationale and Evidence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this