Treatment For Anorexia Nervosa

Treatment for anorexia nervosa is very important. The effects of anorexia are very serious, and expert treatment is required in order for a person to recover. There are several different modes of treatment, and we’ll look at those here.

Finding The Right Treatment

Finding proper treatment for anorexia nervosa is a very complex task as the causes can be as personal as each individual with the condition. Nonetheless, the physical and emotional brutality of the long-term effects of anorexia (including possible death) requires that physicians continue their efforts to discover effective approaches.

In considering anorexia nervosa treatment, first it’s important to remember that modalities must change depending on the severity of the condition and how long it’s gone untreated. The effects of anorexia get progressively worse, and some will require medical attention on top of the normal psychological therapies.

Signs of Anorexia and Its Consequences

Anorexia equates to self-starvation. That means the body gets far fewer calories than it needs to thrive. As the condition continues, the body will look to fat and muscles for any type of nourishment, breaking those down and increasing medical complications.

A person very likely requires treatment for anorexia if they:

  • Feel weak or constantly cold.
  • Look jaundice or bruise easily.
  • Experience cramping.
  • Have trouble sleeping.
  • Get light headed or start forgetting things.
  • Become anemic.
  • Start breaking bones due to brittleness.
  • Get kidney stones.
  • Experience hormonal dysfunction.

Eventually the effects of anorexia are shocking. This condition can result in even more serious issues including abnormal growth, infertility, heart conditions, kidney shutdown, tooth and gum disease, larynx damage, and severe depression. Of the people who have anorexia, between 5 and 15% die from it either due to physical breakdown or suicide.

Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa & the Road to Wellness


Even though the effects of anorexia can be demoralizing and extremely unhealthy, people with this condition can get better. It takes time, but with the right combination of therapy, counseling, and education, an anorexic can go on to live a healthy, happy life with a positive body image.

The basic treatment for anorexia nervosa focuses on getting the person back to a healthy weight, helping them confront and combat the eating disorder, and lifestyle re-training to stop the behaviors that encourage relapse. Because the effects of the disorder are both physical and emotional, most physicians opt for a combination of the following:

  1. Medical treatment – To diagnose and treat health risks. Sometimes anorexics are hospitalized to keep them from starving or harming themselves.
  2. Nutritional education – This is a cross between education and counseling so a person can learn what constitutes a healthy meal, and then begin sticking to prescribed meal plans for recovery.
  3. Counseling – This may be cognitive therapy that focuses on the person’s sense of self, behavior therapy that sets goals and identifies causes for the condition, family therapy for in-house support, and group therapy that provides mutual recovery advice. Of the four, group therapy seems to have a good record of improvement and success.

It is very important that persons with anorexia get encouragement for treatment as early as possible to avoid life long health issues. If you notice signs of anorexia in someone you know, encourage them to get help. Expect some resistance to your suggestions, as many anorexics experience denial and become agitated if confronted harshly. There is no sure-fire way to get the anorexic to seek help. You can’t become the food patrol, but you can be a support unit and a good role model by eating right and gently encouraging the anorexic to do likewise.

If you or someone you know needs treatment for anorexia nervosa, please be sure to take a look at our listing of treatment centers.


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