Anorexia Recovery

“…Emotions control me… make me hide in a safe place of silence…. my mind stays distant from what my heart feels. If I say it… it’s real… so I say nothing. I can’t touch it… if I did I would curl up or crumble. I may seem to be made by heart of stone…. but really just chalk… and I’m afraid to face the possibility that I could easily turn to dust…” –Lori

Anorexia recovery is defined as the restoration to health or to a better state or condition. Recovery tends to be an active process, rather than a singular event such as a cure. Though there is no cure for Anorexia – no means of healing such that treatment is final and complete – anorexia recovery, on the other hand, is entirely possible.

The definition of anorexia recovery remains nebulous. There are certain characteristics that experts may use to detect recovery, but the truth is, anorexia recovery may look very different for each person.

The Two Aspects of Anorexia Recovery

Anorexia recovery can be thought of as being comprised of two aspects: physical anorexia recovery and psychological anorexia recovery. Physically, anorexia recovery would consist of achieving biological and medical markers such as reaching 95% of normal body weight, gaining weight to reach a body mass index (BMI) of 19 or higher, and experiencing increases in body density, as well as the reversal of any damage to the body and its organs from prolonged starvation.

Psychologically, anorexia recovery would include a variety of aspects, first and foremost among them being the readiness of a person to halt restricting behaviors. In addition, anorexia recovery should include the restoration of a normal and healthy body image, increases in self-esteem, a happier mood, and the ability to cope in a healthy and proactive manner with the stresses and pressures of life.

Anorexia Recovery Does Not Happen Overnight

Anorexia recovery tends to be an active process that may extend over months or years. The anorexia recovery process may include various types of treatment and therapy including talk therapy, cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT), group therapy, family therapy, and ongoing education. Working with a variety of healthcare professionals such as nutritionists, doctors, therapists, and counselors may also be necessary throughout the recovery process.

Statistically speaking, between 40% and 60% of people with anorexia experience a full recovery. Up to 20% more experience a partial anorexia recovery, meaning that they are able to engage in some activities of daily living such as holding a job and capable of maintaining some relationships but they are still overly concerned with their weight, food, and calories. Sadly, up to 20% of people with Anorexia never experience any form of recovery. However, complete anorexia recovery is possible and with proper treatment and the motivation to follow it through, even the most severely affected anorexics can experience a restoration to both mental and physical health.

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