A new study recently was presented about the use of rEEG (referenced-EEG) for the selection of medications in those with refractory eating disorders and comorbid depression. I'm never too keen on the word "refractory," but in this case, it means those who had multiple inpatient or partial hospitalizations and had tried medications without success for their symptoms.
So what is rEEG exactly? rEEG is a new system of image diagnostic testing which uses the standard EEG and quantitative EEG known as QEEG. The patient's report is then compared to a large normative database to assess which classes of medications would be useful for treatment. Essentially, these reports are telling physicians which medications will likely improve brain function.
This study consisted of 8 female patients with both anorexia or bulimia and depression. After the rEEG and establishing which medications(medication classes were antidepressant, stimulant, anticonvulsant, and combinations), psychiatrist followed the patients at 8 weeks, 6 month, and the two year mark. Questionnaires for depression and clinical symptomology were used.
The results showed that there was decreased depression and significant improvement in eating disorder symptoms and weight. Beyond that, after the rEEG medication recommendations, hospitalizations significantly decreased among the patients.
Although this is a very small study, I think it is very interesting. Personally, I'm not a medication fan, but I do think there is a place for them as well as natural methods too. I think when you can decrease the trial and error approach to finding which medication will work for you, the frustration level lessen. Besides, some people (even like me as I roll my eyes here) may be more apt to trying them.
In general, I think personalized medicine is the next wave of medicine. If you think about it, our body and brain chemistries are all different. What may work for one person won't necessarily work for another. While weight restoration and using food as medicine are highly important factors in recovery, medications can be helpful for combating some symptoms. Right now, other than fluoxetine for bulimia, there is no effective medication out there for eating disorders.
I hope there will be larger and longitudinal future studies using this treatment approach. Honestly, I would think the insurance companies would be jumping on this bandwagon as it would reduce health care costs which is something we all know they are about. Sad really.
Poster of study