A new treatment provides hope for anorexia sufferers worldwide.
Outstanding news for those who suffer with the condition of anorexia: a non-invasive brain stimulation therapy could alleviate symptoms for this incredibly difficult to treat condition.
Researchers in the UK analyzed anorexia patients before and after a repetitive transcranial stimulation (rTMS) treatment that is typically used for depression, and were surprised with the results, according to a King’s College London statement.
Scientists targeted parts of the brain believed to be connected to self-regulation difficulties often seen in those with anorexia. The treatment sends magnetic pulses to targeted areas, altering how nerve cells in the brain behave. It feels like a gentle tapping on the side of the head.
After just one session, the patient had a reduced urge to avoid food, as well as feelings of being fat. It’s a big success that could lead to new treatments for what has been until now a tough psychological disorder to fight.
Anorexia affects about 4 percent of women in their lifetime, and about 20 percent of anorexia patients will die prematurely due to the condition.
“With rTMS we targeted the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain thought to be involved in some of the self-regulation difficulties associated with anorexia,” Dr. Jessica McClelland, Post-doctoral Researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, said in the statement. “This technique alters neural activity by delivering magnetic pulses to specific regions of the brain, which feels like a gentle tapping sensation on the side of the head.
“We found that one session of rTMS reduced the urge to restrict food intake, levels of feeling full and levels of feeling fat, as well as encouraging more prudent decision-making,” she continued. “Taken together, these findings suggest that brain stimulation may reduce symptoms of anorexia by improving cognitive control over compulsive features of the disorder.”
The findings were published in the journal PLoS One.