Deep brain stimulation may help improve mental, physical health in patients with anorexia nervosa

Severe anorexia nervosa, anxiety and depression can be treated by deep brain stimulation. According to the newest research, deep brain stimulation or neurostimulation which involves implanting electrodes deep in the brain could be the solution to ease certain psychological issues like anorexia, as well as help drive weight gain.

“Worldwide, 0.5% of people have anorexia, and teenage girls account for the majority of cases. The eating disorder is characterised by persistent concerns about bodyweight, shape and size, leading patients to maintain a low weight. Many patients experience mood and anxiety disorders, deny their illness and avoid seeking medical help for it.” News Medical Life Sciences

The Lancet Psychiatry journal published a study that involved 16 women suffering from severe anorexia. They were between the ages of 21 and 57. The women have all had anorexia for nearly two decades .They were selected for the study as all other available treatments did not work for them and they were at risk of early death because of anorexia.

The study included a procedure of placing electrodes in specific areas of their brains associated with anorexia. After several months ,some of the women claimed that their depression and anxiety were reduced. As a follow up from the brain stimulation, after a year most of the women gained weight. The body mass of the 16 anorexic individuals increased by 3.5 points.

Aside from the positive effects of this procedure, there were also some problems. One of the patients in the study had seizure while 2 f the women wanted their electrodes to be removed during the trial.

That is why researchers think that more studies and research should be done before deep brain stimulation becomes a go-to treatment plan for health officials.

“While our results show some early promise, more research will be needed before this becomes available for patients with anorexia. Our findings emphasise the need for continued research into novel neuromodulation strategies for anorexia nervosa, and for psychiatric disorders more broadly.”

Currently deep brain stimulation is used to treat Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

The Wall Street Journal video below features how deep brain stimulation works on Parkinson’s disease:



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