Anorexia Nervosa

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Prognosis and Treatment of Anorexia

The course and outcome of anorexia nervosa varies from individual to individual: some fully recover after a single episode, some have a fluctuating pattern of weight gain and relapse, and others experience a chronically deteriorating course of illness over many years. Anorexia nervosa, when not adequately treated, can be fatal. The mortality rate among people with anorexia has been estimated at 0.56% per year. The most common causes of death from anorexia nervosa are complications of the disorder (cardiac arrest or electrolyte imbalance) and suicide.

Eating disorders can be treated and a healthy weight restored. The sooner these disorders are diagnosed and treated, the better the outcomes are likely to be. Because of their complexity, eating disorders require a comprehensive treatment plan involving medical care and monitoring, psychosocial interventions, nutritional counseling and, when appropriate, medication management. At the time of diagnosis, the clinician must determine whether the person is in immediate danger and requires hospitalization.

Treatment of anorexia calls for a specific program that involves three main phases: (1) restoring weight lost to severe dieting and purging; (2) treating psychological disturbances such as distortion of body image, low self-esteem, and interpersonal conflicts; and (3) achieving long-term remission and rehabilitation, or full recovery. Early diagnosis and treatment increases the treatment success rate.

Individual counseling can also help someone with anorexia. If the patient is young or the anorexia stems from relational issues in the family, counseling may involve the whole family too. Support groups may also be a part of treatment. In support groups, patients and families meet and share what they've been through.

Often, eating disorders happen along with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. These problems are treated along with the anorexia. Treatment may include individual therapy, family therapy, neurofeedback or medicine.

People with eating disorders often do not recognize or admit that they are ill. As a result, they may strongly resist getting and staying in treatment. Family members or other trusted individuals can be helpful in ensuring that the person with an eating disorder receives needed care and rehabilitation. For some people, treatment may be long term.

Other useful links regarding Anorexia

  • Anorexia Overview
    • People with anorexia nervosa see themselves as overweight even though they are dangerously thin. Read more about Anorexia.
  • What happens to your body with Anorexia?
    • Read about what happens to your body with Anorexia. See what happens with such things as hair, your muscles and joints, skin, hormones, and intestines with anorexia.
  • Who becomes Anorexic?
    • An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of people suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime. Learn about other statistics on who becomes anorexic.
  • What causes Anorexia?
    • There is no single known cause of anorexia. But some causes of anorexia include, culture, family, biology, personality and stressful life events or changes.
  • What should I do if I think someone I know has Anorexia?
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