In brief: Anorexia treatment: When less is more

In brief

Anorexia treatment: When less is more

Young women with anorexia nervosa, determined to starve themselves, are often reluctant to undertake psychotherapy. A clinical trial suggests that some of them, at least, might be better off without it.

Anorexic women were divided into three groups given 20 weekly sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, or "nonspecific support or clinical management."

In cognitive behavioral therapy, they received prescriptions for normal eating and goals for weight gain, and their ideas about body weight and eating were challenged. They were given handouts to take home and taught ways to reduce the risk of relapse after improving. Interpersonal therapy explored the links among anorexia, depressive symptoms, personal relationships, and life stress.

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