Bulimia Messes With The Brain Function
Bulimia, also known as bulimia nervosa, is an eating disorder characterized by restraining from food for a long period of time, then engaging in binge eating and feeling sorry about it.
Bulimia usually affects girl around the age of 18, because this is the time in which girls go through many transformation, both from a physically and a mentally point of view, and they may want a perfect body. Thinking they can get that perfect body, they stop eating for long periods of time, lose weight and then engage in binge eating, which usually results in regurgitating all the food out of guilt. Previous studies have shown that bulimia nervosa does not affect only the body, but it also affects the mind of a person.
The most recent study made on the issue suggests that bulimia nervosa also messes with people’s brain function. The researchers involved in the study compared the brain function of a normal person to that of a bulimic person and the results showed that bulimia actually weakens the brain’s reward circuitry. Guido Frank, M.D, the lead author of the study, and his team of researchers tried to analyze how the dopamine-related reward-learning tasks worked in both healthy and bulimic women. Dopamine is a chemical which is found in the brain and it is responsible for the regulation of behaviors such as learning and motivation.
What Frank and his group of researchers found was that bulimic women had a weaker response in the brain regions which are part of the reward circuitry. That means that after episodes of binge eating and purging, the brain is affected and the dopamine function also seems to be different in bulimic women. What the researchers think is that dopamine may be used in order to treat bulimic women, through specific medication which should treat these abnormalities. “This is the first study that suggests that brain dopamine-related reward circuitry, pathways that modulate our drive to eat, may have a role in bulimia nervosa,” Frank said in a statement. What Frank meant to say was that the more frequent the binge/purging episodes in a person, the weaker are the brain responses.
The study brings forward new information related to how the brain functions under such conditions as bulimia or anorexia and it can also provide some new leads into finding a way to help people recover better and faster from bulimia nervosa.11