This page was medically reviewed by Dr Murali Sekar, Medical Director & Consultant Psychiatrist in Eating Disorders, at Priory Hospital Chelmsford in october 2022.
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 the symptoms of 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
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.
How we treat anorexia nervosa
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.
Life Works, Surrey, is known for its expert inpatient eating disorder service, helping those struggling with anorexia get their life back on track.
Day treatment services and outpatient services are also available.
Book a free pre-screening assessment
At our locations, we can help you:
- 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
- Develop a healthier relationship with food
- Address the underlying issues that may be making your anorexia worse
- Improve your self-esteem
- Learn effective coping strategies to manage anorexia in the future
- Identify triggers for your unhealthy eating habits and give you techniques to overcome them
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.
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.
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.
Our anorexia nervosa treatment centres
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.
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
We also offer online therapy for anorexia. This allows you to access support at a time and place that's convenient for you.
Young people and anorexia
At Priory, we don’t just treat adults with anorexia. We can also provide tailored eating disorder help for patients under the age of 18. We also provide a full education programme for the young people in our care. This includes a range of educational services and accredited on-site assessment facilities to ensure the young people we look after receive a continuous education while they’re with us, suitable to their needs and abilities.
Support for families and loved ones
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.
Get in Touch Today
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
Call our Enquiry Line
For more information about the eating disorder services that Priory offer, download our brochure.Get our brochure