Monday, August 13, 2007

Interesting new report on anorexia

In the August 7 issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders, researchers at Rouen University Hospital in France describe a woman with anorexia who was found to have a brain lesion. When the lesion was treated, the anorexia went away, supporting the notion that AN is indeed a disorder with strong roots in the physical brain.

I'm blogging remotely today, so I can't post a direct link, but you can see the study abstract at


Carrie Arnold said...


Very interesting. I wonder of the direct connection- perhaps the lesions change brain chemistry or actually the way the neurons are linked and then fire.

My theory (however improvised and cracked it may be) is that the different neurochemistry causes the lesions in those with anorexia. But I could be wrong. I know there was a study in which people with AN actually have a biological basis in the brain for distorted body image.

It's quite a chicken and egg thing, because it could just as easily be the other way around. Or it could be association- like the brain lesion and the neurochemistry don't cause each other, but they run in pairs. Kind of like red hair and freckles.

This is why I never took a philosophy class. I don't think I could ever come up with a thesis.


Carrie Arnold said...

Here I am, replying to myself.

I found this article linked to the one that you posted, Harriet, about seizures and AN:

(Geez, that was long in comment format)

This is interesting because I've had seizures with the AN, likely triggered by the Zyprexa I took. One of my friends from treatment had the same thing: almost simultaneous onset of depression, AN, and epilepsy. Makes ya think. And especially because the anti-convulsants also act as mood stabilizers. There's a connection. There was a study that found that successfully treating epilepsy reduced depression in sufferers, though that might very well be an effect (not being able to drive sucks!)

So I'm going to shut up now. Mary I'm getting as bad as you!

Harriet said...

That's very very interesting, Carrie. And interesting that the lesions all seem to be in the right frontal lobe. I don't know very much about brain anatomy but that's got to be significant.

My gut feeling is that there are multiple ways to get to an eating disorder, and this seems to be one of them. Weight loss seems to be another.

Carrie Arnold said...

Oh absolutely. If there were only one way to get AN, all cases would have it (like all cases of Lyme disease involve an infection of Borrellia burgdoferi) I love the name of that germ.

But you're right about that right frontal lobe. I'll have to look into research on OCD...I'll bet money that it's the same.

Like you, however, my brain anatomy is sorely lacking.

vesta44 said...

My daughter-in-law was diagnosed with MS several years ago when they did a CT scan, they found lesions on her brain (the only symptom of MS she has, she does have a lot of the symptoms of fibromyalgia). The reason I bring this up is because she has lost a lot of weight in the last year or so (she's 5' 10" and has gone from 175 lbs to 135 lbs and is sick all the time, and cold even when it's 95 degrees outside). She doesn't binge or purge or make herself vomit, but she just doesn't have any appetite. She says she knows she needs to eat, but nothing tastes good, she takes a few bites and is full. Her doctor is worried, but can't figure out why she's lost so much weight (and she's still losing at the rate of about a pound a week).

Susan B said...

Very interesting indeed. My son suffered brain damage due to lack a partially detached placenta the last few days in utero that went undetected and resulted in him not getting enough oxygen, and he suffers from seizures because of it. For the first few years of his life we struggled to get and keep food in him, then when his neurologist put him on Depakote, he developed--and has retained-- the appetite of a lumberjack. (Fortunately the medication also seems to be controlling his seizures successfully.) Interesting stuff.

Anonymous said...

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Harriet said...

Mariellen and Deja,
That is even more interesting. I hope some neurobiologist somewhere is taking note of all this!

Carrie Arnold said...


Big hugs from me for you and your d. I can't imagine how difficult this diagnosis is.

If you go on Laura Collins' parents board (it's on the side of her blog there are some high-calorie recipes. Even Benecalorie might help- it's a small tub of high calorie nutrients that you can add to other stuff. I've heard it's fairly tasteless and can be ordered from Walgreen's.

When I was depressed, I had no taste sensations. Literally. You could have fed me paper and I wouldn't have known the difference. Tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and papaya were the only things that tasted good to me.

Take care.

Harriet said...

I would add to that that when my daughter had no feelings of hunger for more than a year. It took a full year of re-feeding her, and her getting to a high enough weight, for her natural feelings of satiety and hunger to re-emerge.

Your d-in-law's situation sounds very scary, and I'm glad you're getting good medical advice. Carrie's advice above is also very good. Our favorite high-cal but low-volume foods are almond butter, bagels, any nuts, cream sauces, and pasta.

I hope things turn around for your d-i-l.

Anonymous said...

I just came across this site. I have several psychiatric disorders, from bulimia, severe depression, post traumatic stress disorder, Conversion Disorder that causes psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (seizures that are not caused by abnormal electrical discharges, but caused by manifestations of psychologic distress. Supression of stress that comes you in physical uncontrollable ways). Anyways, I was in the hospital a few months ago and was on feeds 24/7 after my weight dropped to 72 pounds (not intentionally). They had me on jevity 80 and Benecalorie mixed in with it for extra calories and I put on weight fairly quickly. It was a little 1.5 oz packet that had 300 or 400 calories in one 1.5 oz packet. it was good, because it wasnt a whole lot added to the jevity so I didnt feel filled up all the time. It really is a good thing to have, but my drug coverage doesnt cover it and its like 40 dollars for 24 packets... so im back to Ensure Chocolate. Blek. Anyways, just thought i'd give a bit of info.