An eating disorder can be diagnosed

Anorexia: Diagnosis & Therapy

Anorexia nervosa is treated on the one hand by medical treatment and on the other hand by psychotherapy. Ideally, there should be close coordination between the treating physicians (from different disciplines) and psychotherapists. Starting treatment as early as possible (short period between the onset of the disease and the start of treatment) improves the prognosis.

Outpatient, day clinic or inpatient

Treatment can be carried out on an outpatient basis, in a day clinic or as an inpatient. The doctor decides in each individual case - depending on the physical condition as well as social and psychological factors - in which form the treatment is necessary. Psychotherapeutic care can be provided individually or in groups. Both those affected and their relatives are informed about the disease and its treatment and included in the treatment. In the beginning, but also during the entire treatment, it is often necessary to motivate those affected for treatment.

The therapy aims to normalize body weight and eating behavior and overcome psychological problems. Nutritional information (advice) and help with coping with everyday life are also included in the therapy. Support in coping with development processes and the process of detaching young people from home may be necessary.
In addition, possible secondary diseases and complications must be treated.

Therapy monitoring and relapse prevention

During the therapy, regular examinations are carried out to control the course and to assess complications - e.g. by determining the body weight or certain laboratory values. In addition, preparation for the time after discharge is necessary. The transition back to “normal life” as well as dealing and behavior in the event of a relapse can be discussed with those affected and their relatives.

As a rule, it takes many months or even years for healing. Therapy can be discontinued during the course of therapy. In certain circumstances, accommodation and moving out of home to a therapeutic group that specializes in the care of eating disorders are considered or carried out.

Family environment

The family or close caregivers play an important role. The decisive factor is the parents' contribution in all phases of treatment, from detection and initial presentation to intensive collaboration with the therapeutic team in order to adequately counter the disease.

Especially with children, but also with younger adolescents, parents / legal guardians take on important decisions and tasks and often have to convince the affected person first of a treatment, if possible without interfering too much with their autonomy (especially with young people). At the same time, it is usually difficult for relatives to accept that they can only help relatively little. Many relatives find it difficult not to control permanently, but to participate with interest in the course of the therapy. It may be necessary to address conflict behavior in the family, delimitation difficulties, etc. in the course of the therapy - for example through psychotherapy, family or couples therapy (which also includes relatives). For more information, see Eating Disorders: What Family Members Can Do.

Specialized counseling centers and outpatient clinics, addresses of resident psychotherapists and psychologists can be found under Eating Disorders: Advice & Help.

Medication

For example, if the eating disorder is related to depression, medication can also be prescribed (psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants). Supplementing missing nutrients can also be necessary in anorexia nervosa.

Compulsory treatment

Ideally, the treatment is carried out with the consent of the person affected, therapy goals are discussed and agreed - and a healthy, balanced diet is aimed for. Sometimes it may be necessary to take steps to ensure adequate food intake. This can be achieved, for example, through liquid food forms (liquid food) or through feeding by means of a probe. Under certain circumstances (in extremely rare cases) compulsory treatment must also be carried out - e.g. if the patient's situation is life-threatening.

Compulsory treatmentIdeally, the treatment is carried out with the consent of the person affected, therapy goals are discussed and agreed - and a healthy, balanced diet is aimed for. Sometimes it may be necessary to take steps to ensure adequate food intake. This can be achieved, for example, through liquid food forms (liquid food) or through feeding by means of a probe. Under certain circumstances (in extremely rare cases) compulsory treatment must also be carried out - e.g. if the patient's situation is life-threatening.