Eating disorders are serious and often fatal illnesses that cause severe disturbances to a person’s eating behaviors. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
People with anorexia nervosa may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. Some people with anorexia severely restrict the amount of food they eat, and eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. While many young women and men with this disorder die from complications associated with starvation, others die of suicide. Bulimia nervosa is a disorder categorized by recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by a behavior that compensates for this overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors.
While many people recognize anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa as eating disorders, binge-eating is not usually associated with mental illness. However, binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. People with binge-eating disorder lose control over their eating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, periods of binge-eating are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. As a result, people with binge-eating disorder often are overweight or obese.
Eating disorders are conditions of disordered eating that result from a complex interaction of a multitude of factors including internal mechanisms (homeostatic, cognitive, and emotional) and external influences (environmental cues, social context) on food intake. Neurofeedback has been proven to be an effective treatment for eating disorders. It does this by improving the brain’s ability to respond optimally to internal and external stimuli, such as the ability to recognize hunger or satiation.
Recently, studies have shown that a non-invasive neuromodulation technique, neurofeedback, can induce behavioural changes by targeting specific cortical brain regions. In a recent study, findings suggest that Infraslow Neurofeedback can suppress food craving and improve a sense of well-being in overweight or obese individuals who show signs of food addiction. Click here (link to the article) to read the double-blind placebo-controlled study.
We take a individualized approach to treating eating disorders with neurofeedback. Often, clients come to us after trying psychotherapy and/or attending in-patient facilities for eating disorder issues. They may feel out of control and have lost hope in recovery. At NFSNY, we work with each individual to develop a treatment plan that is customized to them. This may include Infraslow or sLORETA Neurofeedback for some; psychotherapy and neuromodulation for others; or all of the above plus dietary support and eating disorder support groups.
With Infraslow and sLORETA Neurofeedback brain function is normalized and the nervous system is regulated. As this happens, the person receiving neurofeedback training feels less stress and anxiety. This major system change has a positive cascading effect on emotions and thoughts. The dysregulation that drives eating disorders and over eating is normalized.
In a recent randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (link to the article), researchers measured the impact of Infraslow Neurofeedback on craving and sense of well-being in obese women. The results were incredible. In just ten sessions, these women had an increased sense of well-being and decrease in food cravings. While this research may be the first of its kind to study Infraslow Neurofeedback on food cravings, we consistently see this result in our clients.