All Eating Disorders can be treated and a healthy weight restored. However, the sooner the Eating Disorders is diagnosed and appropriate treatments begun, the better the outcomes are likely to be.
Eating Disorders can be highly complex, requiring a comprehensive treatment strategy which involves psychosocial interventions, nutritional counseling, medical care and monitoring, and perhaps even medication management. At the time of diagnosis, a doctor will need to determine whether a person health and well-being is in serious danger and may recommend immediate hospitalization.
The course and outcome for people suffering from Anorexia can vary from person to person and case to case. Some people fully recover after a single episode. Others have a fluctuating pattern of weight gain and relapse. While others may experience a chronically deteriorating course of illness over many years, which may eventually lead to death.
The treatment of Anorexia usually involves three main phases:
- Restoring weight lost as a result of severe dieting and purging.
Treating psychological disturbances such as distortion of body image, low self-esteem, and interpersonal conflicts.
Achieving long-term remission and rehabilitation, or full recovery.
As with all Eating Disorders, early diagnosis and treatment greatly improves the sufferer’s outlook and increases the treatment success rate.
Other treatment options for Anorexia may also be required. For example, psychotropic medications, which include antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), have proven helpful for weight maintenance and for resolving various mood and anxiety symptoms that are often associated with Anorexia.
This is particularly true with sufferers who exhibit significant symptoms of depression or anxiety, or those who have not responded adequately to psychosocial treatment alone. These medications also may help prevent relapse or recurrence of the condition.
In severe cases, the management of severe weight loss can be managed in a hospital, where stringent feeding plans address the sufferer’s medical and nutritional needs. In the most extreme cases, other measures, such as intravenous feeding, may be recommended or even essential. Once malnutrition has been reversed and weight gain has begun, a range of psychotherapies, such as cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal psychotherapy, can help people with Anorexia overcome low self-esteem and address distorted thought and behavior patterns.
Families are often included in these therapeutic processes.
People with Eating Disorders often do not recognize or admit that they are ill. As a result, they may strongly resist treatments for their condition. Family members and other trusted individuals can be essential in ensuring that the sufferer receives needed care and continues with their rehabilitation. For some people, treatment may be long term.