Using Psychotherapy and Medications for Anorexia
Once malnutrition has been corrected and weight gain has begun, psychotherapy (often cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal psychotherapy) can help people with anorexia overcome low self-esteem and address distorted thought and behavior patterns. Behavioral therapy also has been effective in helping a person return to healthy eating habits.
Family therapy may be part of treatment for anorexia, during which parents help their child learn to eat again and maintain healthy eating habits on his or her own.
Supportive group therapy may follow, and self-help groups within communities may provide ongoing support as part of treatment.
Use of psychotropic medication in treating anorexia should be considered only after weight gain has been established. Certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been shown to be helpful for weight maintenance and for resolving mood and anxiety symptoms associated with anorexia.
The course and outcome of anorexia nervosa vary among individuals: some fully recover after a single episode; some have a fluctuating pattern of weight gain and relapse. Others experience a chronically deteriorating course of the illness over many years.
The mortality rate among people with anorexia has been estimated at 0.56 percent per year, or approximately 5.6 percent per decade, which is about 12 times higher than the annual death rate due to all causes of death among females ages 15 to 24 in the general population. The most common causes of death are complications of the disorder, such as cardiac arrest or electrolyte imbalance, and suicide.