What is the outlook for people with anorexia nervosa?

The prognosis for anorexia nervosa varies, based on the type of treatment, length of illness, and severity of the illness. Anorexia nervosa has the highest death rate of any mental illness. Individuals with anorexia nervosa are five times more likely to die prematurely and 18 times more likely to die of suicide.

Anorexia nervosa, like other eating disorders, gets worse the longer it is left untreated. The sooner the disorder is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. However, people with anorexia nervosa often will not admit they have a problem and might resist treatment or refuse to follow the treatment plan.

Anorexia nervosa can be treated, allowing the person to return to a healthy weight. Although treatment is possible, the risk of relapse is high. Recovery from anorexia usually requires long-term treatment as well as a strong commitment by the individual. Support of family members and other loved ones can help ensure that the person receives the needed treatment.

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