Deep brain stimulation could help health officials treat treat severe anorexia nervosa and reduce depression and anxiety, a new study released this week found. Deep brain stimulation involves implanting electrodes deep in the brain and could help drive weight gain, BBC News reported Friday.

The study published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal involved 16 women with severe anorexia between the ages of 21 and 57. The participants all had anorexia for an average of nearly two decades and tried other treatment without success. Some of the women faced early death because of their anorexia.

The study saw electrodes placed in specific areas of their brains associated with anorexia. After a few months, some of the women said their depression and anxiety had lessened. After a year, many of the women had put on weight. In all, the participants' body mass index soared from 13.8 to 17.3. Brain scans also showed changes in the areas linked to anorexia.

"There are currently no effective treatments for people with long-standing anorexia nervosa - people who are often the sickest and most vulnerable of dying from the condition," Dr. Nir Lipsman, a neurosurgeon at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, told the BBC. "Our work, which builds on earlier trials, is one of the first brain-based strategies that has been shown to help with chronic anorexia. And my hope is that through this research we are also validating the idea that anorexia is a brain-based illness, not a personality or lifestyle choice."

Researchers, however, warned larger studies would also need to show deep brain stimulation works before the therapy becomes a go-to treatment plan for health officials. There were also problems with the study. One patient had a seizure and two people wanted their electrodes be removed during the trial.

"Further work to establish efficacy, safety and long-term outcomes in a larger cohort is needed," Dr. Carrie McAdams, of the University of Texas Southwestern, wrote of the study. 

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder tend to be more common in women than men. They often develop during adolescence or early adulthood.

Deep brain stimulation is currently used to treat Parkinson's disease symptoms.