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Treatment for anorexia nervosa

2-minute read

It is possible for a person with anorexia nervosa to fully recover from their illness. Full recovery may take some time.

Anxiety can affect your ability to concentrate.

What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder which causes severe weight loss.

Research shows that treatment for anorexia nervosa in the early stages of the illness offers the best chance of recovery, so it is important to seek help as soon as possible if you or someone you know has anorexia nervosa.

Restoring good nutrition and a healthy weight is the essential first step to recovery, and this allows psychotherapy to work effectively.

A doctor is normally the first point of call for a person suspected of having anorexia nervosa. The doctor can provide a diagnosis, physical check-up, and refer to other mental health professionals who will need to be involved.

You can use the Question Builder tool to create a question list for your appointment. Prepare your list, then print or email it so you remember what you want to ask.

The most effective treatment for anorexia nervosa generally requires a team approach, which may include a dietitian, psychologist, family therapist and sometimes a psychiatrist.

A psychologist may provide a mental health assessment and can help a person with anorexia nervosa learn behaviours to return to and maintain a healthy weight. There are different types of therapies available to people with anorexia nervosa.

Antidepressants and other medicines are sometimes used to treat anorexia nervosa. But the person will also need psychological therapy as well.

Anorexia nervosa can cause a range of physical problems that may require medical treatment. People with severe anorexia nervosa may require hospitalisation. It's common for people with the condition to relapse, so ongoing follow-up and treatment for anorexia nervosa is important.

Where to get help

If you or someone you know might have anorexia nervosa, contact the following organisations for support, information and counselling:


Last reviewed: July 2017

Need more information?

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Treatment of eating disorders | Your Health in Mind

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Anorexia nervosa (eating disorders) information | myVMC

Anorexia is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder, characterised by extreme reluctance to consume food as a result of a disturbed body image.

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Having an eating disorder is neither a lifestyle choice, a ‘diet gone wrong’, nor an attempt to get attention. A person with an eating disorder has a mental health condition.

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