The Importance of Early and Aggressive Treatmentby Mark Warren, M.D.
Re-posted from Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders (CCED) blog archives. CCED and The Emily Program partnered in 2014.
A recent study by Dr. Janet Treasure, one of the world's most prominent eating disorder researchers, has demonstrated the significant importance of early and aggressive treatment for anorexia nervosa. In her study, regardless of the treatment mechanism, patients who had been ill for longer than three years had significantly worse outcomes after treatment then those who had been ill for less time. Give the lack of evidence based treatment available until ten years ago, we do not know if current treatment mechanism may be more effective for those who have been ill longer. However, we can certainly say that based on this study, the faster someone gets into treatment and the more aggressive the treatment, clients are faster into recovery and less likely to relapse.
This study supports previous data from Drs Lock and LeGrange, showing the effectiveness of family based treatment for those under age 18 who had been ill for less than three years. The accumulation of data over time continues to support the necessity of not ignoring, downplaying or minimizing eating disorder behaviors, or hoping that patients will get better on their own without aggressive behaviorally based treatment.
We do not want to discourage hope in those who have been ill longer than three years or those who have started treatment later. Treatment continues to get better as providers and agencies are utilizing evidence based treatment models to treat their clients. Nonetheless, a reading of the current data strongly suggests that no matter where you are, where your loved one is in their eating disorder, the faster they get into aggressive treatment for weight restoration and behavioral cessation the greater their lifelong chance of recovery.
Contributions by Sarah Emerman