Could a Brain Implant Cure Anorexia? | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Could a Brain Implant Cure Anorexia?

The eating disorder is notoriously difficult to treat, but scientists say they've found a solution.

Image: 

Is help on the way? Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

03/07/13

| Share

Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses and is notoriously difficult to treat, but a team of scientists believe they have found a breakthrough solution. The scientists have developed a technique by which they insert a "brain pacemaker" electrode deep inside brain regions that promote appetite and lift mood. The technique was tested on six women between the ages of 24 to 57 at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre in Toronto, all of whom were considered high risk, and had been unsuccessful with previous treatments. Researchers say nine months after the brain implant surgery, half of the patients had experienced their longest period of weight gain since they developed anorexia. None had lost weight, and almost all of the women said they felt significantly better. Two patients were even able to successfully finish an inpatient eating disorder treatment program for the first time. Researchers say that the results, published in the journal The Lancet, “give hope to patients with especially pernicious forms of the disorder and their families.”

Anorexia has been traditionally difficult to treat, because it usually sets in during adolescence when the brain is still developing. The disease has a staggering 20% mortality rate, and only 30 to 40% of patients fully recover. "There is an urgent need for additional therapies to help those suffering from severe anorexia," says Dr. Blake Woodside, one of the researchers and the medical director of Canada’s largest eating disorders program at Toronto General Hospital. “Any treatment that could potentially change the natural course of this illness is not just offering hope but saving the lives for those that suffer from the extreme form of this condition." Experts are hopeful that similar brain implant treatments might be successful in treating other mental illnesses as well. "We are truly ushering in a new of era of understanding of the brain and the role it can play in certain neurological disorders," says Dr. Andres Lozano, a neurosurgeon and one of the researchers in the study. "By pinpointing and correcting the precise circuits in the brain associated with the symptoms of some of these conditions, we are finding additional options to treat these illnesses."

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Normies React to the 12 Steps

"I think admitting to having a problem in general is the right first step, but to admit powerlessness is unhealthy. .. I think admitting powerlessness is more harmful because it doesn't help. Admitting that you want and need help is more useful after admittance."

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv