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Anorexia Nervosa - Treatment Overview

All people with anorexia need treatment. In most cases, this involves seeing a doctor and having regular counseling sessions. A hospital stay is needed for those who are seriously underweight or who have severe medical problems. The goals of treatment are to restore a healthy weight and healthy eating habits.

If you have an eating disorder, try not to resist treatment. Although you may be very afraid of gaining weight, try to think of weight gain as a life-saving measure. With help, you can learn to eat well and keep your weight at a healthy level.

Your recovery

Ideally, you can take charge of anorexia with the help of a team that includes a mental health professional (such as a psychologist or licensed counselor), a medical health professional (such as a doctor or nurse), and a registered dietitian.

If your medical condition is not life-threatening, your treatment likely will include:

  • Medical treatment. If malnutrition or starvation has started to break down your body, medical treatment will be a top priority. Your doctor will treat the medical conditions that have been caused by anorexia, such as osteoporosis, heart problems, or depression. As you begin to get better, your doctor will continue to follow your health and weight.
  • Nutritional counseling. A registered dietitian will help you take charge of your weight in a healthy way. You will learn healthy eating patterns and gain a good understanding of nutrition.
  • Therapy. Talking with a psychologist or mental health professional will help you cope with the emotional reasons behind anorexia. For example, you may discuss life stresses, unhelpful beliefs about food and weight, or certain personality traits that may be, in part, causing anorexia.

An important part of your recovery will include:

For the teen with anorexia, family involvement is a key part of treatment. Family therapy helps parents support their child, both emotionally and physically.

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