The authors review the research on anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, emphasizing the neurotransmitters and neuromodulators that regulate eating behavior. Anorexia nervosa is associated with changes in the noradrenergic, serotonergic, and opioid systems; bulimia is accompanied by marked alterations in serotonin and norepinephrine activity. These neurochemical changes may perpetuate pathologic eating behavior and may be responsible for several associated psychiatric symptoms, including anxiety and depression. The authors also summarize studies of several drugs that are used in the treatment of eating disorders and are known to modify neurotransmitter activity. Understanding the neurochemistry of eating disorders seems crucial for the rational development of both psychopharmacological and behavioral treatments.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)