Individuals are usually considered to be ready to terminate therapy once they have achieved a healthy body weight and can eat all foods free of guilt or anxiety. For a complete recovery, extensive treatment may be required from six months to two years, and for as long as three to five years in cases where other psychiatric conditions are present. For some, eating disorders will be a lifelong struggle, with stressful or traumatic events triggering relapses that may require occasional check-in therapy to restore healthful eating patterns.
Of individuals with anorexia nervosa, 50 percent will have favorable outcomes, 30 percent will have intermediate results, and 20 percent will have poor outcomes. The prognosis for bulimics is slightly less favorable, with 45 percent achieving favorable outcomes, 18 percent having intermediate results, and 21 percent with poor results. Among both anorexics and bulimics, 5.6 percent will die of complications related to their illness. Those who receive treatment early in the course of their disease have a greater chance of full recovery on both a physical and an emotional level. A favorable prognosis is also likely with an early age at diagnosis, healthy parent-child relationships, and close supportive relationships with friends or therapists. With early identification and treatment, eating disorders can be prevented from becoming chronic and potentially lethal. see also Addiction, Food; Anorexia Nervosa; Bulimia Nervosa; Eating Disturbances.
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Stice, Eric; Maxfield, Jennifer; and Wells, Tony (2003). "Adverse Effects of Social Pressure to Be Thin on Young Women: An Experimental Investigation of the Effects of 'Fat Talk.'" International Journal of Eating Disorders 34:108-117.
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