Sunday, 15 March 2015

What changes in the brain of a patient with ED?

By now, you must know that I love relating brain changes and science to what I can. The differences that occur in the brains of patients with ED are still being studied. Remember how we talked about differences in neurotransmitters and hormones, such as dopamine, leptin, etc? Well, I was able to find a document that summarizes many different studies and what brain changes were found to occur in ED patients. I'm not suggesting that you even try to read the document, as it is long and uses a lot of scientific and research terminology. However, for the purpose of referencing, I will provide a link to it here: http://anp.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/10/24/0004867413509693.abstract. The picture here is an extremely simplified depiction of the brain and different regions and their functions.

So, what changes in the brains of ED patients? One of my favourite changes to discuss is what happens to the amygdala and the limbic system. This is the part of the brain involved in emotions. Studies show that these areas are smaller or less stimulated in patients with ED, highlighting the difficulties that patients have with emotion and expressing them. At the same time, these areas are not stimulated during eating, which is supposed to be an enjoyable time for humans.

Throughout the brain, there is a decreased activation and sensitivity to dopamine, which we know is involved in reward patterns. This is important because it tells us a lot about patients with ED. First, they are not rewarded when they eat because their brains do not register this is as being fun or pleasurable. Furthermore, patients often do not feel happy or pleased with things that usually or normally cause joy, such as social time, relationships, laughing, etc. Again, we can relate this to the lack of dopamine or its malfunctioning in the brains of ED patients. This is commonly called anhedonia: a lack of pleasure from things that normally cause pleasure.

We also know that serotonin doesn't work properly either. Serotonin, or 5 HT, is involved in mood. There has been shown to be decreased 5HT in patients, which can help us explain the depression, anxiety, or bad moods that ED patients experience. New research is also finding a connection between 5HT and eating - namely, in patients with ED, 5HT works to make eating less enjoyable. Thus. when patients with ED eat, the lack of 5HT may actually cause negative emotions, discomfort, anxiety, a sense of doom, etc.

There are many other changes that have been observed, studied, and researched. I won't get into them because it would take me years to explain them all - and I am still learning as well. But what I want you to get from this post is that ED is a mental illness. What is important to understand as well is the fact that changes in the brain occur in patients with ED. What does this tell us? First, that ED is a REAL illness and not simply a choice that people make. It also helps us understand some of the symptoms and signs associated with ED. Moreover, we can empathize with patients and learn that what they are feeling and experiencing is very real - they are not trying to be difficult or starve themselves; rather, it is changes in the brain and other factors of the illness that change their behaviours and moods and contribute to the illness.


 Finally, this helps us realize that the treatment of ED is more complex than simply feeding the patient and getting their weight stable - recovery, if it is to be successful, must address the many different factors that have been found to be implicated in ED. This may include medications, food, therapy, massages, etc. We cannot expect to 'fix' a patient with ED if we simply feed them and neglect that there are other things we must address: moods, behaviours, changes in hormones, self harm, suicidal thoughts, self-esteem, motivation, and more (please note, however, that food is VITAL for all people, including patients with ED. Studies have shown that with proper nutrition and adequate food intake and weight restoration, many changes in ED patients can become reversible and treated. FOOD IS MEDICINE!). Perhaps this is why recovery is so complex, and why it takes so long. But what keeps me hopeful is that all of this does not end in despair, as I am proof that true recovery is possible. It takes work, social support, love, and determination. Things often feel that they get worse before they get better. But just keep going. When a door closes, don't waste your time staring at it - look for another one. And if all doors are closed, look for an open window. Just don't give up.



 

40 comments:

  1. No matter what changes ,I feel completely normal and even healthier since my recovery without relapse for 7 years now

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  2. What a post full of scientific details that make me understand ED better than ever

    Penny

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  3. For 2 years after my recovery I could not enjoy the food but now I do enjoy all the varieties

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  4. Can not believe Ed cause all this.

    Tanos

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  5. Lovely meaningful pictures

    Hosanna

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  6. My obssession,anxiety and irritability needs serotonin,so I need to stay on my antidepressant despite I am recovered.
    Wonderful post help me understand myself.

    Anne

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  7. Pictures are self exploratory and looking great.
    Thanks

    Murray

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  8. This post shows how complicated our brain is

    Cindrella

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  9. It is important for me to know how much could my brain and feeling damaged if I hadn't listen to your messages and got cured before too late.
    Thanks for this post and your encouragement

    Nanraj

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  10. I am glad to know 50-70 % recover from ED.

    Sheila Ketson

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  11. Is there is factor that can have someone with ED recover(among 70%) or not recover and be chronic victim(among 30%).

    Thanks for this scientifically full post.

    Conrad

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  12. Wonderful post

    Anastashia

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  13. What an excellent post

    Sally

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  14. Talented writer,skillful nurse and thorough researcher and educator.

    I liked this post so much.


    Bush,Steve

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  15. Who could imagine all these changes happen with ED.
    Thanks for wonderful post.
    Talented writer and topnotch educator Marina

    Tania

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  16. What an excellent post full of info ,well searched .
    I take my hat off for you.
    with my humble respect

    Muhammad

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  17. Hey very articulte writer.
    Well done Marina

    Kelly W

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  18. What a great hope to know 50-70% recover and you are a leader and pioneer when you stood strong and hard facing any challenge .


    Magaly

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  19. One can imagine how much you know

    Savana

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  20. You have been doing amazing job

    Sorina

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  21. God bless you Marina

    Oswaldo

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  22. I kike all the pictures

    Vicky

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  23. Excellent helpful post

    Agnes

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  24. I love your style of giving information

    Wanda

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  25. Lots of info

    Nelson

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  26. The showed that once you take the first step ,you can climb the stairs and you will reach sooner or later.
    ED can recover as long as We keep going.

    Helen

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  27. Holly
    All this happened to the brain in ED


    Yara

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  28. Very tough illness on the whole body especially the brain.

    Razan

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  29. Thumb up to you. Excellent post

    Zak

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  30. It makes sense to me ED can impact severely on the brain as I noted myself and I do not have ED that when I delayed my meals or snack ,I feel tired,and can not focus or concentrate as well.Even I can not sleep when I am hungry.

    J Peel

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  31. I like your style of writing that easy to absorb complicated medical info;

    Parson

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  32. despite the terrible changes with ED ,the recovery is making millions of EXCELLENT CHANGES

    Mary
    Mississauga

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  33. This is a hope that despite ED cause severe brain damage but 75 % complete recover and prevail

    Morandan

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  34. Excellent post

    Raja

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  35. The recovery will eliminate any bad changes happened to brain

    Fernandez

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  36. what a nice pretty beautiful picture full of info.

    Hom

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  37. Thank you for clarifying brain complicated function

    Ilhami

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  38. Hope with recovery get our brains back to full function and enjoyment.

    Jenn

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  39. Our brain is huge and so ED impacts severely and the amazingly brain can recover immensely

    Penny

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  40. Fantastic post tells us lots about our brain.

    Blanchette

    ReplyDelete

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