Anorexia Nervosa is relatively common among young women – and in particular, teenagers from fifteen to nineteen years of age.
It is a condition that requires medical diagnosis, may require some medical treatment, and is most often helped by the addition of psychological therapies.
Symptoms of Anorexia
There are three “hallmarks” of anorexia:
- Restricting energy intake, eg: food and drink, over a long period of time.
- Fear of gaining weight and/or excess body fat and/or behaving in ways that avoid weight gain.
- The individual sees themselves as fat, overweight, or the “wrong” shape even when they are not.
What Can Happen if I Avoid Treatment for Anorexia
Having Anorexia can result in your body becoming thinner than is considered normal for your age, sex, physical health, and overall development. This is important as the brain and the body are still developing in your teens and twenties.
Maintaining your health and functioning in your social, family and work life can also be difficult without enough nourishing food and drink to create health and wellbeing. Anorexia can leave you at risk for some serious health problems, and treatment should commence as soon as possible to maximise the chance of full recovery.
Treatment for Anorexia
If you have been told you are under-eating or have anorexia you may have mixed feelings about this diagnosis.
Therapy is initially aimed at gaining an understanding of your particular circumstances and how you have been managing thus far. The next step is to discuss your needs and what you consider to be your goals for therapy. Taking all assessment information into consideration, goals and therapy approach are negotiated, and a plan for tracking your progress is put into place.
To date, there is only a small body of research evidence providing support for any particular therapeutic approach or procedure for treatment of adults with anorexia nervosa. In recent years, enhanced cognitive behaviour therapy, psychodynamic therapy and supportive therapies have been shown to have some efficacy in reducing symptoms of, and assisting recovery from, anorexia. Thus at present an individualised approach to therapy is most appropriate.
Recent studies suggest that adults with anorexia have a reasonable chance of recovery.
The overall goals of therapy are to:
- Lessen the risks associated with having anorexia;
- Encourage weight gain and healthy eating;
- Reduce other symptoms related to the eating disorder;
- Facilitate psychological and physical recovery.
It is important to note that if there are any significant concerns regarding your physical health whilst in therapy, the therapist will recommend that you re-visit your doctor for a review of your condition. Physical and mental health are strongly related to each other, and your therapist will want to ensure that you are receiving the best possible care.
Author: Mia Olsson, BA Psych (Hons), Dip Nurs, AMAPS.
Registered Psychologist Mia Olsson has had a broad interdisciplinary role in the health industry for over thirty years, including hospital-based nurse training, and an Honours Degree majoring in Psychology. She enjoys assisting clients with depressive disorders, anxiety, acute and chronic complex trauma, and health related issues.
To make an appointment with Psychologist Mia Olsson, try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC.
- Smink, F. R., van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H. W. (2012). Epidemiology of eating disorders: incidence, prevalence and mortality rates. Current psychiatry reports,14(4), 406-414.
- Zipfel, S., Wild, B., Groß, G., Friederich, H., Teufel, M., Schellberg, D., . . . Herzog, W. (2014).
- Focal psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, and optimised treatment as usual in outpatients with anorexia nervosa (ANTOP study): Randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 383(9912), 127-37. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61746-8.
The information on this topic page is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional.