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Anorexia Nervosa - Treatment Overview

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Your recovery continued...

One type of family therapy, The Maudsley method, has been shown to help children and teens who have anorexia. The Maudsley method helps parents feed their child and create a healthy eating pattern for their child. Although this is a difficult task that involves the whole family, a Maudsley therapist can help the family reach this goal. After your child or teen has gained enough weight, treatment will begin to address more general family issues.

Any brothers or sisters also need support during treatment. Family, group, and individual counseling are all effective and are often combined.

If you need more help

Ongoing (chronic) forms of anorexia may require treatment for many years, including hospitalizations when needed. Ongoing treatment usually includes psychological counseling. A counselor will help you make your own plan to use new coping and stress management skills and prevent relapse. Your counselor can help you at those times when it is hard to follow healthy ways of thinking about food and your body.

Some people fully recover from anorexia. Many people with anorexia have ups and downs over the years. Try thinking of treatment as an ongoing process.

When you need emergency care

Being severely underweight can cause dehydration, starvation, and electrolyte imbalance, any of which can be life-threatening.

If anorexia causes life-threatening medical problems, you need urgent medical treatment. A hospital stay is needed for those who are seriously underweight or who have severe medical problems. This can include several weeks in the hospital followed by outpatient treatment to monitor your progress. Treatment includes:

  • Treating starvation. This can include treating medical problems it has caused, such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or heart problems. If you can't eat, you are given your nutrition in fluid form.
  • Nutritional rehabilitation. The medical team helps you work toward a healthier weight carefully and gradually, learn when your body is hungry and full, and start healthy eating patterns.

Insurance coverage varies for inpatient treatment of eating disorders. Check with your insurance carrier to learn about your coverage.

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