Electric shock therapy may help treat food cravings, finds study

Electric shock therapy may help treat food cravings, finds study

Researchers from the Stanford University have developed a new treatment that will help people control their food cravings. The study, published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted on both mice and humans to find out how electricity can change the brain’s area responsible for controlling impulsive behavior.

The new treatment involves electric current being sent through the brain of a patient to control the impulse to eat at the source. The reward system of the brain, which induces pleasure from actions like sleep, food and sex, is targeted by the current. The current helps this particular area of the brain avert impulses for pleasurable behavior.

Casey Halpern, lead author of the study, said that they had an application with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct this test in obese patients, who exhibited a binge-like behavior. According to the researchers, the treatment is solely designed for those patients who have been severely affected by obesity and not for someone looking to shed a few inches or for those who are looking for solutions to be able to resist a plate of fries.

How effective is the treatment

When a test was conducted on mice in 2013, Halpern and his co-researchers observed that this particular type of stimulation was successful in reducing the binge eating behavior by nearly 50 percent. As part of the study, the mice had first been induced with binge eating. They were fed big portions of food that were high on fat and were monitored to note their behavior during pleasurable activities, which did not involve eating. This was important as the researchers had to make sure that the aversion to food did not carry to disliking of other activities.

The brains of the mice were monitored and particular patterns of activity, which occurred in anticipation of a reward, were identified. This was somewhat that moment when the craving for food would get translated into the action of eating. The research was conducted on the human brain as well with the same results, which suggested that impulsiveness in humans could also be curbed. Next on the list is to investigate the effectiveness of the technique on the cravings for food in humans.

Seeking treatment for eating disorders

An eating disorder is a serious mental condition that affects a person’s eating behaviors. Obsessions with food or body shape can also signal an eating disorder. The common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), nearly 30 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. Also, at least an individual dies every 62 minutes due to an eating disorder in the country.

Among mental illnesses, eating disorders claim the maximum number of lives. A willful suppression of emotions can lead to a mental condition like depression, anxiety and eating disorder. However, the good thing is that a mental disorder can be treated with timely medical interventions.

If you know someone who is in need of help to cope with a mental illness, contact the Colorado Mental Health Helpline for reliable information on the mental health treatment centers in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-899-5063 to know about the best mental health rehab in Colorado. You can also chat with one of our representatives to get mental health help online. Remember that mental disorders can have life-threatening consequences if not treated in time.