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How To Treat Anorexia Nervosa

Abstract: Treatment of anorexia nervosa requires enormous amounts of patience from parents and hospital staff.

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How To Treat Anorexia Nervosa

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Question(s): 
Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 13 Aug 2008.

How is anorexia nervosa treated?

Answer:

In the acute phase of anorexia nervosa the patient is unwilling to accept rational arguments and it may be necessary to stop the starvation in order to prevent destruction of the body. If possible the parents should take part in the treatment. The purpose is to normalize the patient's weight. If it is impossible to persuade the patient to eat or drink nutrients in sufficient quantities at home, it may be necessary to insist on hospital care where tube-feeding or drip-feeding can be used. If the patient still refuses to accept nutrition then sedatives may be required in order to make it possible.

The patient should not go to school or be exposed to stress and demands, but she should take it easy, keep warm and have a pleasant time.

The treatment of anorexia requires enormous patience from both parents and hospital staff. The cooperation of the patient will eventually be needed and this calls for many discussions and motivation initiated by relatives, psychotherapists and staff.

The parents should not be accused of causing the illness, but should be seen as an asset in the care of the patient. The main problems are the patient's false conceptions concerning food and the body.

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