Under the Hood

Eating Disorder Treatment Latest: Deep Brain Stimulation May Lessen Anorexia Symptoms

A new, small study published in The Lancet Psychiatry has found that deep brain stimulation (DBS) using electrodes can potentially treat patients with severe anorexia by improving both mental and physical health.

Researchers examined 16 women with anorexia, all between the ages of 21 and 57, who’d been battling the eating disorder for an average of 18 years. According to Medical XPress, all participants were also severely underweight and did not find success in other treatment options. Two women dropped out of the year-long study, however, for the 14 who remained, "mental health symptoms improved over the study with mood and anxiety symptoms reducing in five patients and depression reducing in 10 out of 14 patients. They also reported better quality of life," Medical Xpress reported. 

Read: Mediterranean Diet Brain Benefits: Lower Risk Of ADHD Linked To Healthy Eating Plan

DBS involves “implanting electrodes within certain areas of your brain” to regulate abnormal impulses, The Mayo Clinic reported.

The research team examined brain scans from participants both before and after the treatment. Results showed changes from DBS in specific regions of the brain linked to anorexia — like the putamen, thalamus, and cerebellum.

brain-1845940_640 Can deep brain stimulation treat anorexia? Photo courtesy of Pixabay

In the U.S., 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinical eating disorder at some point in their life. These conditions include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED), The National Eating Disorder Association reported.

Read: Will I Have Anorexia Or Bulimia My Whole Life? Eating Disorders Study Says Most Women Recover

"Anorexia remains the psychiatric disorder with the highest mortality rate, and there is an urgent need to develop safe, effective, evidence-driven treatments that are informed by a growing understanding of brain circuitry," said lead researcher Andres Lozano, according to Reuters.

Source: Lozano AM, Lipsman N, Lam E, Volpini M, Sutander K, Twose R, Sodums TJ, et al. Deep brain stimulation of the subcallosal cingulate for treatment-refractory anorexia nervosa: 1 year follow-up of an open-label trial. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2017.

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