Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

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?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Treatment of eating disorders | Your Health in Mind

Medications (medicines) are not part of the standard treatment for anorexia nervosa because there is not strong enough evidence that they are effective

Read more on RANZCP - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists website

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a disorder characterised by a relentless desire to lose weight despite obvious malnutrition.

Read more on WA Health website

Eating Disorders Explained - Downloadable Fact Sheets

If you have experienced an eating disorder or are concerned about someone you know you will find the latest information you need here.

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

What is Anorexia Nervosa? Eating Disorders Explained

Anorexia Nervosa is a serious and potentially life threatening mental illness, not a lifestyle choice. A person with Anorexia Nervosa is unwell and needs help.

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Eating disorders - myDr.com.au

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are 2 main forms of eating disorders. These illnesses mainly affect young females.

Read more on myDr website

Anorexia Nervosa

What is Anorexia Nervosa? Anorexia Nervosa is a serious and potentially life threatening mental illness. A person with Anorexia Nervosa has not made a ‘lifestyle choice’, they are actually very unwell and need help.

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Eating Disorders in Australia

Eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder have a significant and underestimated impact on Australian society.

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

What is EDNOS? A person with Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) may present with many of the symptoms of other eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa but will not meet the full criteria for diagnosis of these disorders.

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

What can I do if I am worried that a friend has an eating disorder? Dietitians Association of Australia

What can I do if I am worried that a friend has an eating disorder? Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia are very serious medical conditions

Read more on Dietitians Association of Australia website

Disordered Eating

What is disordered eating? Disordered eating is when a person regularly engages in unhealthy and destructive eating behaviours such as restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals. Disordered eating can include behaviours which reflect many but not all of the symptoms of eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback