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Treatment for anorexia nervosa is possible and the first line of treatment is usually focused on immediate weight gain. Especially for those whose illness has caused them to develop other medical conditions and require hospitalization. In a lot of cases, people with anorexia are treated as outpatients, with input from physicians, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. Itís important to stress that while treatment may sometimes be difficult, because many people with anorexia donít believe there is anything wrong with them, it is possible to recover from anorexia. For some, anorexia is relatively short-lived, while for others it can become a chronic illness. For successful treatment, patients must want to change and it is very important to have family and friends for support.

Treatment usually involves a team of doctors, therapists and nutritionists. A variety of approaches are used, but it is generally accepted that psychotherapy is needed to deal with the underlying emotional issues that helped cause the anorexia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is sometimes used to change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Group therapy is often helpful so that people can share their experiences with others. Family therapy is particularly advised if the individual is living at home and is a child or young adolescent. A physician is needed to prescribe medications that may be useful in treating the depression or anxiety that often accompanies the anorexia. A nutritionist advises the patient about proper diet and eating regimens. Support groups are often very beneficial to both patients and families and will help patients cope with their thoughts and feelings about gaining weight. For those who require outpatient care, the patient receives treatment by visits with members of their health care team. Some patients may need partial hospitalization, which means they go to the hospital during the day for treatment, but they go home at night. Other patients who have serious anorexia go to a hospital and stay there for extended treatment. They usually stay in a special unit for people with eating disorders. After leaving the hospital, the patient continues to get help from her or his health care team.

To summarize, treatment for anorexia nervosa involves changing a personís eating habits, but perhaps more importantly, changing their feelings about their weight, self-esteem and other problems. People with anorexia often need counseling for a year or more to work on changing the feelings that caused their eating problems in the first place. Medication is available to help patients feel less depressed and anxious. These medications are prescribed by a physician and are used along with the counseling. Support from family and friends helps the patient feel accepted and secure, but any person with anorexia should never feel alone. Help is available and treatment is possible. Extreme cases of anorexia require hospitalization, but others may require partial hospitalization or treatment as out-patients.


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