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October 4, 2013

When Are You Fully Recovered from an Eating Disorder?

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Speaking in terms of recovery from an eating disorder, it can sometimes be difficult to predict or determine when an individual is actually “recovered”.  Many people who have suffered with an eating disorder may no longer engage in behaviors associated with anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating, such as restricting food intake or bingeing and purging, but it is possible that they may continue to struggle with the internal battle that is often characteristic of eating disorders.

So when can someone actually be considered “recovered” from an eating disorder?  While this may continue to be a gray area for many health professionals who treat women and men recovering from eating disorders, new research from Stanford University has identified more substantial physical and mental signs that can measurably predict long-term recovery in adolescents and whether or not an individual is ready to end treatment.

In this study, which was published in August in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, authors investigated data from five randomized clinical trials of treatments for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder and reviewed the outcomes of treatment to determine any physical and mental changes that were correlated with long-term recoveries of six, 12 or 24 months.  Researchers did discover that there were measurable predictors of recovery, such as for adolescents with anorexia, achieving a body weight of about 95 percent, or for adolescents with bulimia, refraining from purging [1].  These physical and behavioral indicators served as significant predictors that the patient would not immediately relapse.  Another aim of the study was to better define what qualifies as “recovery”, though researches agree that much more research is still necessary in this area.

This information can be especially helpful to health professionals in determining if treatment has been sufficient for eating disorder recovery, especially in light of relatively high relapse rates.  These tools can help them evidently assess if their patients may require additional treatment as well as predict how they may do once finished with treatment.  Parents or caregivers of adolescents or children in recovery may also find comfort in learning tangible ways of assessing progress in treatment.

As someone who is recovering from an eating disorder, it may be exhausting looking for the finish line, wondering when your battle with this vicious disease might finally come to an end.  Though everyone’s recovery journey may look different, there is hope in the process of recovery.  Recovery from an eating disorder is indeed a journey and not a destination.  Each day you commit to your recovery and fight your eating disorder, you are lessening the stronghold it has over you and empowering yourself to truly find freedom and lasting happiness.



[1]: http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Study-IDs-predictors-for-beating-eating-disorders-4860857.php

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