Research Topic

New Perspectives to Unlock the Current Impasse in Treating Anorexia Nervosa

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Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a severe psychiatric condition that is often chronic. Among psychiatric disorders, AN has the highest mortality rate and reduces life expectancy by 22 years on average and for most patients, AN is refractory to all current treatments. The aim of this Research Topic is to explore how ...

Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a severe psychiatric condition that is often chronic. Among psychiatric disorders, AN has the highest mortality rate and reduces life expectancy by 22 years on average and for most patients, AN is refractory to all current treatments. The aim of this Research Topic is to explore how the current treatment impasse for AN can be addressed by exploring alternatives to existing treatments.

One alternative to existing treatments is to revise the basic theoretical assumptions of the causality of AN: The poor efficacy of existing treatments suggests that the underlying assumption that AN is always caused by disturbed psychological processes may not always be true. Thus, if treatment objectives are a logical corollary of the theoretical understanding of AN as an eating disorder, new treatment paradigms could emerge if a more plausible theoretical assumption is found. One potential way to explore new theoretical assumptions, and by extension treatments, is to reconsider hyperactivity as a potential symptom of AN.

In tandem with revising assumptions and paradigms, the causation of many psychological and medical conditions is currently being reassessed using multi-causal models. These models posit several pathways to each disease where each pathway is composed of a number of components, some of which overlap with other components, and that treatment directed at specific components of the causal pathway could improve outcomes and efficacy. However, a literature review of AN/Causality produced twenty four publications but many were not related to the causation of AN. Moreover, among the wider eating disorder field, the most common model which is utilized to explain causation is a reductionist model, or the so-called ‘Transdiagnostic Theory of Eating Disorders,’ which argues that all eating disorders are one disorder. By moving beyond the existing literature, theories and approaches, this Research Topic will foreground new perspectives on the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa.

This Research Topic welcomes, but is not limited to, the following themes:
• Perspectives on hyperactivity management in AN
• Causation theories that plausibly explicate the psychological processes that underpin AN
• Immune dysfunction including anti-brain antibodies
• Brain injury from trauma
• Cancer leading to, or causing remission from, AN
• Autonomic nervous system and microbiota
• Genetics including multiple genes, epigenetics and the effect of malnutrition and stress on genetics
• Brain networks and the factors that modify these networks
• Computer programs used to determine causation


Keywords: Translational Research, Animal Models, Hyperactivity Management, Causation, Anorexia Nervosa


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