Anorexia, the eating disorder that involves losing astounding amounts of weight, might be treated by using brain stimulation. A new study conducted by researchers at King’s College in London believe that if such treatment is followed for a long period of time, the condition can be ultimately cured.
People affected by this disorder are afraid of getting fat and end up taking laxatives uncontrollably or vomiting in order to keep a steady weight. Unfortunately, if the problem is not tackled medicinally, anorexia can lead to death. It has been reported that one in each five people loses his or her life. Usually considered a mental illness, the disorder mainly manifests in young women.
The study was led by Dr. Jessica McClelland, who works at the King’s College Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience in London. Together with her team, she used a brain stimulating non-invasive technique to find out whether anorexia can be influenced in this way.
The repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) appears to have the ability to reduce the symptoms of the disorder. With only one rTMS session the changes are visible. So how does it work?
The therapy makes the body restrict the way it feels fat or full, which is the core symptom of anorexia. Furthermore, rTMS also determines the patient to make prudent decisions instead or reckless ones. This is not the first time the therapy has been used to treat a mental disorder. In the past, it has been successfully used for depression, and it also improves the brain’s neural activity. The patients are subjected to magnetic impulses that feel similar to gentle taps inside their heads.
The current study tested 44 patients with anorexia nervosa by using an RCT (randomized control trial). The participants were first split into two groups and then subjected to one real rTMS and one fake therapy. Additionally, each individual was given tasks related to decision-making and was of course, in the presence of food. In this way, their symptoms were also triggered during the trials.
In more detail, the two groups had to watch a video showing people while eating various foods. Next, they had to answer several questions about the appearance, the smell and the taste of food, but they also had to express how much they felt like eating the foods presented in the video.
The results were clear: those who went through the placebo effect continued to be disgusted with food while the ones who went through the real rTMS seemed to have overcome it.
Image Source: Women’s Health
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