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Transcranial Stimulation May Ease Symptoms of Anorexia

Depression treatment cut urge to restrict food, researchers say

FRIDAY, March 25, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Repetitive transcranial stimulation (rTMS) may ease major symptoms of anorexia nervosa, according to a study published online March 23 in PLOS ONE.

Jessica McClelland, Ph.D., of King’s College London, and colleagues evaluated anorexia patients before and after they underwent rTMS, a treatment approved for depression.

“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,” McClelland said in a King’s College London news release. “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. Taken together, these findings suggest that brain stimulation may reduce symptoms of anorexia by improving cognitive control over compulsive features of the disorder.”

“Anorexia nervosa is thought to affect up to 4 percent of women in their lifetime. With increasing illness duration, anorexia becomes entrenched in the brain and increasingly difficult to treat. Our preliminary findings support the potential of novel brain-directed treatments for anorexia, which are desperately needed,” study senior author Ulrike Schmidt, Dr.Med., Ph.D., a professor from King’s College London, said in the news release. Because of the promising findings, the researchers are testing rTMS to see if it offers longer-term benefits for people with anorexia nervosa, Schmidt added.

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