Anorexia Nervosa: What It Is, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Anorexia Nervosa is a serious life-threatening illness that causes a person to see themselves as overweight. Those who suffer have a constant fear of gaining weight and therefore have an obsessive nature with food and limit their food intake greatly. The restrictive caloric diet takes a toll on the body, and can even end up taking the affected person’s life. That is why treatment is so vital. Without getting the affected person treatment, the restrictive diet can do catastrophic damage to the body.

In the study, “Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa: The Importance of Disease Progression in the Prognosis,” the experimenters looked at 159 females, and 10 males that suffered from Anorexia Nervosa (Andrade, Gonçalves-Pinho, Roma-Torres, & Brandão, 2017). All the patients that were selected followed the DSM-5 criteria for eating disorders, were at least 13 years of age, and had a Body Mass Index, BMI, of 13 or less (Andrade et al., 2017). The scientist collected data over five years from those who came involuntarily for treatment, or through the emergency department from complications.

The treatment plan that was used in the study was divided into three parts: motivation, family involvement, and food rehabilitation (Andrade et al., 2017). The first part, motivation, is to get the patient on board with treatment. The patient needs to want to get help for them to get their life back. The second part, family involvement, is to make sure the patient has love and support to get them through this difficult process. Lastly, food rehabilitation. It is getting the patient to eat a healthy amount of calories but making sure that they understand that eating is mandatory.

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These three parts encompass the physical and mental sides of anorexia. The disorder itself is mental as much as it is physical. The patient can gain all the weight back, but if they are still in the mindset of an anorexic person, then they will revert to their old ways. The results of this experiment were mixed, 93 of the patients dropped out, and 76 patients completed the treatment and followed back up with the doctors (Andrade et al., 2017). Out of those 76 patients, 25 of the patients achieved full remission, and 27 of them achieved partial remission. Sadly, 24 patients did not achieve remission and had poor outcomes. In conclusion, the high dropout rate of the study is not abnormal, as it affects every study conducted about anorexia. Those who conducted the study saw it as a success and figured out that the longer the duration of the illness, the worse the outcome of the illness (Andrade et al., 2017).

The next study looked at family-based treatments to deal with those who suffer from anorexia. The goal of this study is to see how the treatment affects the patient and if there is any weight gain. In this trial, the scientist recruited 26 patients from two different pediatric hospitals, and one adult hospital (Dimitropoulos, Landers, Freeman, Novick, Garber, & Le Grange, 2018). For the start of treatment, they made each participant fill out an Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire. Family-based therapy is composed of three phases: the first is parental self-efficacy, the second is giving the responsibility back to the child, and the last phase is discussing the issues, and possibly getting rid of treatment (Dimitropoulos et al., 2018). The first phase is getting the parents heavily involved in getting their child better. It is monitoring their caloric intake and preparing meals for them. Once that phase is successful, the parents and the child can transition to the second phase and give the responsibility of monitoring the calories to the child. When the child begins to flourish and gain the weight back, it goes into the final phase where the doctors can talk about terminating the treatment. To enhance the family aspect, there are family therapy sessions. During these times, each of the family members is asked about their eating habits, and how the illness affects everyone (Dimitropoulos et al., 2018). As soon as the treatment is finished, the patient must fill out the questionnaire again, and then three months later for a follow-up. The results of this study were similar to the last. Twelve of the patients withdrew from the study, but the outcome for the rest of the patients was positive. The scores from the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire significantly decreased, and there was weight gain from the first weigh-in, to post-treatment, and three-month follow-up (Dimitropoulos et al., 2018). All the participants that stuck through the treatment all reached weight restoration. Although during the three-month follow-up, some patients’ weight began to decline (Andrade et al., 2017).

The last study looks at sudden gains in 89 patients who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa (Cartwright, Cheng, Schmidt, & Landau, 2017). Sudden gains are the stability and reduction of symptoms, so the conductors of the experiment were looking to see if there was a change in the Body Mass Index of the participant between two treatment sessions (Cartwright et al., 2017). The participants received one of two therapies, the Maudsley model or a specialist supportive clinical management (Cartwright et al., 2017). The first therapy helps to maintain symptoms of anorexia, and the other treatment is more supportive and encouraging therapy. The study looked at sudden gains to see if they would affect BMI, the symptoms, and changes in the follow-ups. The results of this experiment showed that those who had sudden gains experienced a larger increase in their BMI. Almost 68% of the patients experienced sudden gains, and most of the sudden gains occurred at the beginning and middle of treatment (Cartwright et al., 2017). There was also a larger increase in the patient’s BMI from the original weigh-in to the six and twelve-month follow-up (Cartwright et al., 2017). In conclusion, doctors can use sudden gains to help determine weight gain in the long run (Cartwright et al., 2017).

From these three studies, it is extremely important to figure out how to treat Anorexia Nervosa effectively. It is exceptionally difficult to treat. Even in the studies, the participants would withdraw from treatment. Each of the experiments looked at the physical and mental side of anorexia and addressed them accordingly. Without getting the affected person the correct treatment they need, anorexia can do catastrophic damage.

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Anorexia Nervosa: What It Is, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment. (2022, Apr 28). Retrieved from

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