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Avoiding relapse in anorexia and eating disorder recovery

Anorexia and other eating disorders have been under discussion in the media lately. Across the USA last week National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (24 Feb-4 March) put this mental health condition in the spotlight.

Treatments for eating disorders have come a long way in the last decades and research into eating disorders is helping the understanding of its complicated conditions.

Recent research has discovered that after weeks of successful treatment adolescent can be at risk of relapse.  Like most mental health problems treatment is part or the process of recovery.  Kate Le Page suffered from anorexia and wrote about the experience. She summed up that time when the brain is normalising itself.

“My worst days in recovery are better than the best days in relapse.”

The US study after treatment for anorexia the brains of 21 adolescents still had an elevated reward system compared to 21 participants without the condition.

Anorexia changes the brain response to ‘reward’ the body when underweight. In the study the researchers found that the reward responses toward being underweight were still high, even though there had been considerable weight gain.

The reason lies in the brain needing time to normalise. The more scrambled brain functioning is, the more difficult to treat and enable weight gain. While the brain is sorting out that interference and beginning to stabilise again, there is a risk period, requiring careful monitoring.


For more information on eating disorders contact the Butterfly Foundation. If you have any concerns about eating disorders or would like to learn about treatment options, call us today on 61 3 5586 4155.


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