Early treatment for anorexia can help stop symptoms (and other medical complications) from getting worse. The goals of anorexia nervosa treatment are to:
By treating the nutritional needs of the patient, a person's body weight should be restored to a healthy level (BMI - body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9). By treating the person's psychological needs of the person, the patient should be able to heave healthy beliefs about their self-image, and to have normal, healthy eating habits; this is especially important to prevent a relapse or return of the disorder. Treatment may require medication, psychological counseling, nutritional counseling, and possibly hospitalization if serious complications of internal organs have occurred.
If a patient's physical health is seriously in danger, hospitalization may be recommended. This may be the case if the person refuses to eat, or does not gain weight. During hospitalization, a person may be placed in a psychiatric ward so as to have care appropriate for those with eating disorders.
Because emotional disorders may accompany anorexia, medication may be prescribed in order to treat underlying issues. Treatment for emotional disorders may include SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and/or anti-anxiety-medication in order to treat depression, anxiety, etc. While this medication will not restore a person to a healthy body weight, and ensure good nutrition, this may be useful in treating some beliefs and behaviours that may interfere with maintaining healthy eating habits in the future.
Nutritional counselling is an important aspect of treating anorexia. Learning about healthy eating educates people diagnosed with anorexia about necessary eating habits. A plan may be devised with a nutritionist in order to educate the patient what are the body's needs in order to remain healthy.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)has been shown to be effective in treating anorexia. Psychological counselling addresses the underlying beliefs that lead to an unrealistic self-image. This may be done individually, as a family group, or in another group setting. Because stress can be a trigger for anorexic behaviour, people diagnosed with anorexia may also learn techniques to deal with stress. Counselling is performed within a hospital, or other clinical setting in which the patient lives in the clinic in order to ensure the most effective treatment. Or, psychological counselling may be on an out-patient basis, by having counselling sessions in a clinic, but otherwise live at home.
Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental disorder with serious physical consequences. Lack of treatment means that physical symptoms may get worse, and that any underlying anxiety or depression is never resolved. People no longer need to suffer emotionally as a result of anorexia as it is a treatable disorder that can result in positive self-image and healthy weight gain.
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