Can You Take Weight Loss Medication With An Active Eating Disorder?

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, eating disorders are more prevalent than they’ve ever been. Nearly 10% of the US population will or already has an eating disorder that may or may not be medically diagnosed. Unfortunately, despite how prevalent eating disorders are, there’s very little discussion about how to deal with them.

This article aims to shed light on what eating disorders are, their prevalence, and how to treat them. We’ll also look at whether or not it’s safe to use medications to treat certain eating disorders, as well as the risks involved.

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What is an eating disorder?

Contrary to what you may have been told in the past, eating disorders are serious mental conditions that can have serious physical ramifications.

An eating disorder isn’t when you push a diet or lifestyle eating choice too far. Rather than being a choice, eating disorders are classified as mental illnesses.

There are many different types and classes of eating disorders. It’s possible to have a disorder where you eat too much food or barely eat enough to survive. The distinguishing factor of an eating disorder is whether the amount of food you eat is jeopardizing your life and health. You’re also no longer able to control the amount of food you eat when you have an eating disorder and don’t consume healthy amounts of food.

fat and skinny girls tied together with a measuring tape

Eating disorder symptoms

Because there are many different types of eating disorders, symptoms may vary depending on your disorder. Here are some of the most common signs of an eating disorder.

  • Overly preoccupied with the number of calories and the content of food
  • Don’t like eating around others
  • Either eat too much or not enough to be healthy
  • Either skip meals or binge eat
  • Weight and body fluctuations
  • Problems sleeping
  • Dizziness when you stand up 
  • Dry skin and nails
  • Occasional fainting
  • Confusion
  • Muscle weakness
  • Mood swings
slices of apple, water and a calories counter sheet

Typically, the most obvious sign of an eating disorder is in the physical appearance of the affected person. Depending on their disorder type, they will often be very overweight or underweight.

Weight loss medication

Among the many methods used to treat eating disorders where you consistently overeat, some experts recommend using weight loss medications. Weight loss medications work by tricking the brain into thinking that you’re fuller than you actually are. Therefore, you may not eat as much food because you feel full sooner, resulting in weight loss.

Types of weight loss medication

If your doctor thinks you can benefit from weight loss medication, there are several options.

These are currently the only FDA-approved weight loss medications in the United States.


The risks of taking weight loss medication with an active eating disorder

Because of their effectiveness, weight loss medications are becoming a common option for treating eating disorders. However, before jumping the gun and seeking a prescription, it’s important to understand the potential risks involved.

In addition to these risks, it’s also possible to abuse weight loss drugs and become dependent upon them. As a result, you can get addicted, which could complicate your weight loss problems.

woman holding her stomach in pain, experiencing nausea

Alternative approaches

Because of the risks involved with taking weight loss medications when you have an active eating disorder, it’s often wise to pursue alternative weight loss approaches. Here are some of the best options. 

Change your mindset 

One of the biggest causes of eating disorders is that people are unhappy with their appearance. As a result, they can either get depressed and binge eat, or develop anorexia nervosa or a similar condition. Either way, it’s important to change your mindset in terms of what you think is healthy.

Be accountable 

It’s nearly impossible to overcome an eating disorder on your own. As with drug addiction, it’s important to be accountable to someone and have someone to talk to.

Take natural supplements 

Instead of taking prescription weight loss medications, consider trying natural weight loss supplements. As with any supplement, however, it’s essential to speak to your doctor to avoid interactions with existing medications or medical conditions.

Lifestyle changes 

In addition to natural supplements, changing your mindset, and accountability, it’s often necessary to make lifestyle changes. This includes meditation practices such as yoga and Tai Chi, various forms of exercise, and seeing a nutritionist for a healthy diet.

woman practising yoga

Talking to a healthcare provider

Whether you decide to pursue medications for weight loss, take an alternative approach, or both, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have an eating disorder. Your provider will help you devise a plan of attack for treating your disorder and help you decide if medications are a good option. Most importantly, however, your healthcare provider can give you a proper diagnosis and help you seek the help you need.


While weight loss medications are a good option for helping you lose weight, they may not be the best option if you have an active eating disorder. It all depends on your type of disorder and other approaches you’re taking toward weight loss. Therefore, it’s vital to consult a healthcare professional if you’re considering weight loss medications to treat an eating disorder. 

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