Anorexia starts with a strict weight-loss diet, which leads to malnutrition and unhealthy weight loss. Once the malnutrition starts, the brain and metabolism changes the circle of limiting food intake and irrational behaviours becomes vicious thereby, making you continue to limit food intake, the way your body uses food changes and your ability to think clearly and make good decisions. Furthermore, you may develop bulimia and purging. Anorexia nervosa can be treated with medications and other therapies such as psychotherapy, support groups (group and/or family therapy) and hospitalisation, but the major challenge for treatment and prognosis is making the person recognise that she (or he) has an illness as most people with anorexia nervosa do not accept that they have an eating disorder.
Weight gain in anorexia: Weight gain occurs well in anorexia with treatment (weight gain of about 1 - 3 pounds per week is considered a safe goal). Response to treatment is better with early diagnosis and treatment as it is easier for the person to learn how to take charge of the body and mind in a healthy way. Furthermore, in the early stages of illness, the risk of developing serious medical and psychological problems is less.
Response to treatment: According to experts, most people (about 75%) with anorexia have a good response and improve with treatment. Of these, about 45% have an excellent outcome and 30% experience considerable improvement. Although, weight gain can occur quickly with treatment, complete recovery can take a number of years. There, however, is always a risk of relapse during periods of stress. In about 20% of people, anorexia continues to be a problem as they do not improve with treatment and remain seriously impaired. Anorexia nervosa can be fatal and about 2% and 10% people with anorexia die because of the disorder. Death usually occurs as a result of complications of starvation or suicide.
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