Prognosis of Anorexia Nervosa

By  , Expert Content
Feb 23, 2012

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Anorexia nervosa is a treatable disorder and weight gain can occur quickly once the treatment has started, but a 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. Read to know the prognosis of anorexia nervosa.

  • Start treatment early: Experts say that early diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious medical and psychological problems in a person with anorexia. It also increases the chance of regaining a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, if you (or someone you care about) have symptoms suggestive of anorexia nervosa, consult a health care provider or a mental health professional. An early start of the treatment makes it easier for a person to learn how to take charge of the body and mind in a healthy way.
  • Weight gain with treatment: With treatment, weight gain can occur quickly, but complete recovery can take a number of years. Many patients, however, after recovery remain extremely concerned about weight and eating. Studies suggest that you can have a relapse during periods of stress.
  • Response to treatment: According to experts, about 75% of people with anorexia nervosa show improvement with treatment. Of these, about 45% have an excellent outcome and 30% experience considerable improvement. About 20% of people receiving treatment for anorexia nervosa do not improve and remain seriously impaired.
  • Death in anorexia: Anorexia nervosa can be fatal, but improvements in treatment have decreased the risk of death. About 2% and 10% people with anorexia die because of the disorder. Death occurs as a result of complications of starvation or suicide.

Some factors that can improve prognosis include:

  • Self-desire to change.
  • Disorder at a young age.
  • Short duration of illness.
  • Absence of other problems such as binge eating or purging.
  • Supportive family and friends.

Remember that even people who have had anorexia nervosa for many years and who have not succeeded with previous treatments can recover with treatment. Appropriate treatment and a strong desire to improve can help most people with anorexia nervosa live healthy, productive and content lives.



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