ADHD Drug Vyvanse Fails as Anti-Depressant, But May be Effective Against Binge-Eating


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is comorbid with depression, which is to say that they frequently occur together. Both disorders exhibit a number of symptoms in common, such as fatigue, sleep difficulties, restlessness and confused thinking. A single drug that would treat both disorders would be of tremendous value to those patients who suffer from both.

Because of this, the manufacturer of one of the leading ADHD drugs, Shire Pharmaceuticals, tested their drug Vyvanse as a possible add-on drug to conventional anti-depressant therapies.

After two clinical trials Shire ended their testing program when Vyvanse failed to perform better than a placebo for adults who suffered from major depressive disorder.

Binge Eating Disorder

Comorbid to both ADHD and major depressive disorder is binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is a newly registered disorder, first appearing in the DSM-5 in 2013. It is characterized by binge eating without subsequent purging, differentiating it from other eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia nervosa. One of the core characteristics of binge eating disorder is a feeling of loss of control. Overeating that lacks that sensation is not clinically considered to be binge eating.

ADHD and binge eating disorder are both the result of impaired impulse control. Long-acting stimulants have been shown to be effective in allowing patients to regain control of their behavior. It is for this reason that stimulants are commonly prescribed to treat ADHD.

It is believed that between 1% and 5% of the population have experienced binge eating. At this time there are no effective prescription treatments for this disorder. Treatment consists primarily of cognitive behavioral therapy, assistance with diet planning from nutritionists and participation in such self-help programs as Overeaters Anonymous or Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous.

During another series of clinical trials Vyvanse was found to be effective in treating binge eating disorder, the first prescription medication to be found to work. Because of this, Shire has filed with the FDA for a new indication for the drug, allowing it to be prescribed to treat binge eating. The application is still pending.

Sources: Wall Street Journal and Medical Daily


The information provided on the is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Total votes: 3979