What Can I Expect During My Anorexia Recovery Program?

Updated October 21, 2020

Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that affects around 30 million people in the United States. People with anorexia struggle with their body image and tend to have an intense fear of gaining weight, even if they are already underweight. As a result, they may use extreme methods to limit their weight in an effort to prevent themselves from gaining extra pounds. While anorexia tends to be more prevalent among women, men can still be affected by the disorder as well.

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While recovering from anorexia is not possible, it can be difficult. For many people, the road to recovery can be long and arduous. Eating disorder recovery programs typically include psychotherapy, group therapy, medication, and nutrition counseling. However, each individual is given a unique plan tailored to their symptoms and needs.

If you are about to start a recovery program for anorexia, it might be helpful to research what you can expect during it. This article offers an in-depth guide to anorexia, different treatment options, and information about inpatient programs.

Anorexia Nervosa: Causes And Symptoms

Just like other eating disorders and mental illnesses, anorexia nervosa can be caused by a combination of different factors.

People with an obsession toward achieving perfection and perseverance are vulnerable to developing anorexia. Having obsessive-compulsive personality traits and high anxiety levels can also make someone vulnerable to this dangerous disorder. One’s environment can also play a role in the development of this disorder. In today’s society, thin bodies are highly prized and desired. As a result, young, impressionable girls may take drastic measures to achieve this “ideal” body image.

People with a history of abuse or sexual assault are vulnerable to suffering from an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia. If you have a parent or sibling who has suffered from anorexia, you are also at an increased risk of developing it. Peer pressure and bullying can also drive someone to develop anorexia.

Anorexia can take a serious toll on your mental and physical health. You can exhibit a number of different symptoms, such as:

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  • Increased irritability or a shorter temper
  • Finding excuses to avoid eating
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Constantly weighing, measuring, or examining your body
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lower sex drive
  • Following strict food rituals, such as spitting out food after chewing it
  • Attempting to cover up the body with layers of clothing
  • Avoiding eating out in public
  • A lack of emotion

The Road To Recovery: Treatment Options For Anorexia

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with anorexia, you have a wide selection of treatment options available to you.

It is common for patients to undergo psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy, that is designed to help them reform their opinions and attitudes toward food. Patients have also been prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to help them cope with co-occurring illnesses. As of now, there are no medications on the market designed specifically to treat anorexia.

Nutritional counseling can also benefit patients with anorexia. These programs help encourage healthy eating patterns and guide patients toward achieving a healthy weight. Inpatient programs are also available for patients.

What To Expect At Inpatient Anorexia Recovery Programs

Due to the Hollywood treatment of inpatient care centers, you see in films and TV shows; many people associate these programs with insane asylums filled with dangerous patients and malevolent hospital staff. However, these are unfair and inaccurate depictions of a psychiatric ward.

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At an inpatient anorexia recovery program, you can expect a comprehensive care program that includes psychotherapy, group therapy, and nutrition counseling. Inpatient programs will tailor a custom program based upon your unique circumstances.

During your first day, the staff will examine your bags and suitcases before storing them in a locker room. You can double-check with a facility regarding what you can and can’t bring before you arrive. As you adjust to this new environment, it might be helpful to have personal reminders of home with you.

Initially, you might need some time to adjust to your new daily life at the inpatient center. Most programs require regular weigh-ins and labs. Unlike your regular home life, meals at inpatient programs are scheduled. Aside from your weekly visits with your dietician or therapist, you will have some downtime to relax and participate in different activities at the facility.

FAQ About Living With Anorexia

Anorexia is a difficult mental health condition, and the road to recovery is not easy. If you have a friend or family member who is struggling with an eating disorder, there are numerous ways you can effectively support them. Educating yourself on anorexia and how it affects people is usually a good first step. As you research more information about this eating disorder, you might have some questions about it. You can see if our FAQ section answers any of them now.

Can anorexia, bulimia, or any other eating disorder kill you?

Over time, anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders can slowly kill you. Often, death can result from medical complications. However, suicide is the leading cause of death in people struggling from anorexia. This is because anorexia affects every part of your life, from your relationships to your professional life. Eventually, you become consumed by the disorder.

Can anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders co-occur with different mental health disorders?

Anorexia canoccur with other mental health disorders such as:

  • Depression
  • Substance Use Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Can women with anorexia become pregnant?

Anorexia can make it difficult for women to become pregnant. Some women with anorexia struggle with amenorrhea, which occurs when their period stops. The psychological stress that co-occurs with anorexia, as well as compulsive exercise, can also negatively affect a woman’s fertility.

While it isn’t impossible to become pregnant, your pregnancy is still at a higher risk if you are anorexic. Pregnant women with anorexia face a high risk of developing depression, diabetes, and heart problems. They may also go into premature labor. Their baby is also at risk of being born at a low weight or having breathing problems when they are born. Some babies have also come out stillborn.

Does anorexia make you vulnerable to other health conditions?

Anorexia can cause numerous health complications in patients, the most severe being death. Other health problems include:

  • The loss of one’s period for women
  • A decrease in testosterone in men
  • Heart issues such as irregular rhythms or even heart failure
  • Anemia
  • Gastrointestinal problems like bloating or constipation
  • Osteoporosis

Out of all other mental health disorders, anorexia has the highest mortality rate. People struggling with anorexia are also at a high risk of committing suicide. 1 in 5 deaths associated with anorexia resulted from suicide.

Does anorexia affect more members of a particular group than others?

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), anorexia can affect anyone, regardless of their age or gender. At one point, anorexia was more prevalent among middle and upper-middle-class families. However, people of all economic backgrounds have been affected by it.

Can children have anorexia?

Anorexia can affect anyone, including children. Young adolescents struggling with weight problems increased pressure to lose weight, or depression is prone to developing anorexia. Children with overbearing and overcritical parents also face a high risk of developing an eating disorder.

How can I best support my friend/family member who is struggling with an eating disorder?

If someone you know has an eating disorder, you can lend support to them in a number of different ways. Reach out to them to talk about how you have noticed how they have displayed worrisome symptoms of an eating disorder. While you talk to them, try to avoid sounding judgemental or critical, as this can make the person act defensive. Making comments about their weight or attempting to give vague, oversimplified advice can also alienate them from you.

That being said, they might still be in denial of their disorder. But even if you do end up getting ignored or shut down, you should still make it clear that you are always available to talk to. Offering support and encouragement is crucial for helping them get through this difficult time in their life.

How is anorexia portrayed in the film?

Anorexia has been portrayed in several films, including “Girl, Interrupted,” “Perfect Body,” “To the Bone,” and “Sharing the Secret.” Many critics argue that a number of these films and TV shows that attempt to portray eating disorders miss the mark and inadvertently glamorize the disorder. Indeed, showing such a complex illness on screen is difficult to accomplish. However, others praise their efforts to highlight the struggles and dangers of living with an eating disorder.

If you or a loved one is struggling with anorexia, it is crucial to know that there is help out there. Online professional mental health counselors at BetterHelp will help you recover from and manage this serious illness. Contact our team today to learn more information.


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