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Anorexia Nervosa

What Is The Outcome With Treatment?

Friday, March 16, 2012 - 14:55

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Although weight gain can occur quickly once treatment begins, complete recovery can take a number of years. Many of those who recover in terms of weight remain overly concerned about eating and weight. Relapse can occur during periods of stress.

About 75% of people with anorexia nervosa continue to show improvement after initial treatment.

  • About 45% of these people have an excellent outcome
  • Another 30% experience considerable improvement
  • About 20% of those receiving treatment remain seriously impaired
  • Between 2% and 10% die because of the disorder. Deaths are usually related to complications of starvation or suicide. However, death rates appear to be decreasing due to improved treatments.

Factors associated with successful recovery include:

  • Motivation to change
  • Young age when anorexia nervosa starts
  • Short length of illness
  • Absence of binge eating or purging

However, recovery is possible in those who have had anorexia nervosa for many years and who have not succeeded with previous treatments. With proper treatment and a strong desire to change, people with anorexia nervosa can go on to live healthy, productive, and satisfying lives.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent serious medical and psychological problems from developing and increase the chance of regaining good health. So, if you think you may have anorexia nervosa, talk with your health care provider or a mental health professional. If you think someone you know may have anorexia nervosa, encourage her or him to get professional help.

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