Treatment Of Anorexia Nervosa

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Symptoms And Health Risks Of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is an oppressive illness. Those who suffer from anorexia will engage in problematic behaviors to maintain a sense of control. They do not realize how severely their health is being affected. Patients with anorexia often exhibit symptoms and warning signs, like:

  • Having a family member who also suffers from Anorexia Nervosa
  • Binging (Eating an excessive amount of food in a short amount of time) and purging (Inducing vomiting)
  • Obsession with calorie content of foods
  • Avoiding social events or gatherings that involve eating
  • Excessive exercise
  • Covering up body with baggy clothes
  • Irritability, especially when confronted with concerns or comments about eating habits or weight
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Belief that they are overweight
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Only eating in private
  • Thinning hair
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Fatigue

If anorexia is left untreated, it can cause serious and sometimes fatal consequences. It is possible to die from anorexia, and the longer it takes to get proper treatment the higher the risk of death and permanent damage to the brain and body. When treating anorexia it is important to treat not only the symptoms, but also the underlying causes of the onset of the symptoms.

Treatment of anorexia often involves several different forms of attention. Depending on individual circumstances, each patient will be different. Some will be open to treatment, while others will deny a problem. It is very difficult for a person who suffers from anorexia to take the necessary steps to get better. Treatment of anorexia requires patience, persistence, and a routine.

Treatment of anorexia often involves a number of different modalities, including:

  • Individual Therapy.Counseling techniques are used to treat a case of anorexia. With individual therapy, the patient works to change patterns of thinking and behaving to promote healthy eating and coping with emotions. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be especially helpful in achieving this goal.
  • Group Therapy.Group therapy is often incorporated into a patient’s treatment. Group therapy allows patients to feel supported by each other as they go through similar struggles in treatment.
  • Family Therapy.It is important for family members of the patient to also get therapy. This helps the family members understand how the condition developed and how to address it at home. It also helps the patient feel secure in feeling understood by family members. Often families work through struggles with the patient, as she learns more about her condition. Family therapy helps the patient learn how to express himself or herself in a healthy and secure way.
  • Nutrition Counseling.Treatment of Anorexia typically involves a nutritionist. A nutritionist helps ensure that the patient is progressing to maintain a normal body weight. He or she will also help by educating the patient about healthy eating and coping habits.
  • In certain cases medication may be used to help treat anorexia. Medications like selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) will be used. The purpose of these medications is to help control the mental and emotional issues that contribute to the symptomatic behavior. Some medications also help with sleep issues and appetite stimulation.
  • Residential Rehabilitation. In serious cases, professionals may recommend long-term residential rehabilitation. Here, the patient will receive intensive care for recovery. For example, if a patient is emaciated and in immediate need of care, or is refusing to cooperate with treatment on an outpatient basis, the safest option may be residential care. There, the patient can be monitored appropriately.


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