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What is anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that can lead you to develop problems with your eating habits. It often causes you to become obsessed with your weight, body shape and what other people think of how you look.

If you’re struggling with anorexia, you’ll usually have:

  • An unhealthy obsession with being thin
  • An overwhelming fear of gaining weight
  • Intentional restriction of dietary intake to cause weight loss or maintain low weight
  • A distorted body image (causing you to think you’re fat, even when other people say you’re thin)
  • Preoccupation with eating, food, body weight, image and/or shape concerns, resulting in significant interruption in your physical, emotional, social and/or work aspects of life

This means that people with anorexia tend to become preoccupied with keeping their weight as low as possible. In order to achieve this, they may reduce the amount of food they eat, and try to remove calories from their body using unhealthy methods such as making themselves sick after eating, abusing laxatives and exercising excessively. Making yourself sick can be a manifestation of anorexia too, even though it is sometimes seen as more of a characteristic of bulimia.

The good news is that anorexia is treatable and it’s possible for you to overcome your unhealthy eating habits, resolve the underlying issues that may be contributing to your eating disorder, and take steps towards a more positive way of life. The most important step is to seek help & support.

Get help for your anorexia today

At Priory, we understand that anorexia can have a negative impact on lots of different areas of your life. We also recognise that accepting you have anorexia and reaching out for help can be daunting, both for you and for those who care about you.

However, you don’t have to struggle with anorexia on your own. We can offer you professional advice and treatment, which is personalised according to your unique needs and experiences, helping you beat anorexia and get back on track.

Our team of psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, dietitians and other eating disorder experts can deliver individually tailored anorexia treatment at our specialist hospitals and wellbeing centres. We can help you to:

  • Address the causes and triggers for your irrational fears and unhealthy eating habits
  • Tackle your dysfunctional behaviours
  • Improve your health, wellbeing and quality of life, and support you to get back on track

Unfortunately, without specialist treatment, anorexia can have serious physical and psychological consequences, and can even be fatal. That’s why it’s so important to get the specialist eating disorder treatment you need. You really are in safe hands with Priory. Together, we can beat this illness.

Treatment for anorexia at Priory

At Priory, we are dedicated to providing personalised anorexia treatment, support and therapy. We will help you to:

  • Develop a healthier relationship with food
  • Address the underlying issues that may be making your anorexia worse
  • Identify triggers for your unhealthy eating habits and give you techniques to overcome them
  • Improve your self-esteem
  • Learn effective coping strategies to manage anorexia in the future

The type and length of the treatment you’ll receive at Priory depends on your individual circumstances and how severe your anorexia is. We can provide specialist anorexia treatment on an outpatient, day care or inpatient (residential) basis, which is bespoke to you and tailored according to the intensity of the support you need. You can read more about these different treatment options on our approach to eating disorder treatment page.

In addition, our nationwide network of hospitals and wellbeing centres mean we’re able to offer you the expert treatment you need in a location that is convenient for you, and in a way that can be flexible around your work and other commitments.

Over the years, we have helped thousands of people to overcome their anorexia and take steps towards a healthy, happy and more fulfilling life. You don’t need to struggle with anorexia; we can help you resume the healthy, happy and fulfilling life you deserve.

Emma's Story

Emma’s* parents, were worried about their 16 year old; for over a year she had been on a diet that didn’t seem to stop.

After fainting at school and being hospitalised, Emma's parents knew she needed help. Tests showed Emma had low bradycardia and hypothermia and had to have repeated blood tests and an electrocardiogram (ECG). She was nursed on bed rest with 24-hour care, and was prescribed a gradually increasing diet by the dietitian.

As her weight went up, Emma's started participating in Priory’s intensive therapy programme and was allocated an individual therapist. Emma particiapted in individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy, focusing on body image, CBT, and nutritional information. 

16 weeks later, on discharge, Emma had gained control over her eating disorder and was happy spending time with her friends and family again, and going back to school. 

Read more about Emma's eating disorder story here. 

Different types of therapy for anorexia

The most recent therapy techniques, namely the Maudsley Model of Anorexia Nervosa Treatment for Adults (MANTRA) and enhanced cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-E) are widely available in our centres. In addition, we have other National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended treatments for anorexia, namely focal dynamic psychotherapy, CBT-based interventions and family-based interventions.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for anorexia

One of the most widely used therapy methods in anorexia treatment is CBT. This type of therapy has been found to be a flexible and effective treatment method for lots of different mental health conditions and eating disorders, and is used all over the world.

CBT is based on the idea that eating disorders, such as anorexia, are driven by negative thought patterns, which can result in you:

  • Struggling to make healthy choices when it comes to food
  • Having a lack of belief in your ability to recover from your eating disorder

At Priory, we use CBT to challenge and change these negative thought patterns in order to change the negative behaviours they’re associated with. Our CBT experts will work closely with you, helping you to:

  • Identify your irrational beliefs around food and body image
  • Develop an understanding of why these negative beliefs developed in the first place
  • Encourage you to replace these beliefs, with more positive thought patterns

Other specialist eating disorder interventions

Our expert treatment teams can also provide a range of therapeutic techniques that have been designed specifically to help people with eating disorders. These include:

  • Dietetic input
  • Supported meals
  • Food exposure techniques
  • Body image workshops
  • Nasogastric feeding

Outpatient therapy package for anorexia

We also offer a tailored outpatient therapy package at our wellbeing centres, that has been specially designed to treat anorexia. Our therapy package offers:

  • 1:1 therapy sessions using the above mentioned therapy techniques
  • Certainty of price for initial treatment
  • A personalised treatment plan

We can also give you a further discount for any additional therapy sessions you may need following your initial anorexia therapy package.

More information on the treatment and package price can be found by downloading our anorexia nervosa outpatient therapy package leaflet.

Expert treatment teams and environments dedicated to recovery

Our eating disorder treatment teams have lots of experience in treating anorexia. We can deliver a whole range of therapeutic techniques to help you tackle your anorexia symptoms, and reduce your unhealthy eating habits.

At Priory, we know that eating disorders are complex conditions and are unique to each individual. That’s why we tailor our eating disorder and anorexia treatment programmes to meet the personal needs of each patient, offering specialised therapy on a flexible and bespoke basis. We make sure that you’re involved in all decisions that are made about your care, and are placed at the heart of your treatment journey. This produces the best possible outcomes for you as an individual.

Also, our specialist treatment settings are supportive, compassionate and provide the perfect place for you to:

  • Address your challenges
  • Receive world class eating disorder support
  • Take steps towards recovery and wellbeing

Remember, you don’t have to suffer in silence with anorexia; Priory is here to help. While it may seem daunting to seek treatment for your eating disorder, it really is the most important step you can take to get your life back on track.

We also offer online therapy for anorexia. This allows you to access support at a time and place that's convenient for you.

Support for families and loved ones

At Priory, we understand that it can be incredibly stressful when a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder. That's why we also provide one-to-one support for the families, carers and loved ones of our eating disorder patients. Feedback states how helpful and crucial these sessions are for the family members of those with an eating disorder diagnosis, helping them to:

  • Manage their own experience of their loved one's eating disorder recovery
  • Become better equipped to understand and support their loved one through their recovery

For more information about our family support sessions, please visit our approach to eating disorder treatment page.

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Murali Sekar (MBBS, MRCPsych) in October 2022.

What causes anorexia?
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What are the most common symptoms of anorexia nervosa?
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Young people and anorexia
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Anorexia nervosa FAQs
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Crisis care at Priory
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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding eating disorder treatment, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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