How can I get anorexic

New therapy for anorexia - day clinic instead of weeks of hospitalization relieves those affected, families

Almost every 200th girl suffers from anorexia. One look at the scales can be torture for those affected; there are certainly alternatives that are perceived by the young people as less of a cut in life.

Today Princess Victoria of Sweden leads a normal life and shows herself in public. It was not always like that. Victoria was anorexic in her youth - as was almost every 200th girl. Ascending trend. Because at least in the age group of 15 to 19 year olds, the number of those affected is still increasing. The psychological and physical consequences of the disease are immense. Often the young people completely lose touch with their social environment. Looking back on the disease, many of those affected report that anorexia stole their entire youth.

Conventional treatment with a high relapse rate

The good news: The disease is basically treatable, even completely curable. Psychotherapy is the method of choice here. Anorexic patients are treated as inpatients in the clinic for weeks. In technical jargon this means: fully inpatient treatment. Nevertheless, a large number of the girls and young women primarily affected are relapsing. Therefore, several stays in the clinic are usually necessary. A team of researchers led by Professor Dr. Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann from Aachen made the task. “We thought for a long time whether there could be an alternative to full inpatient treatment. Of course, this would have to be at least as effective, but the young people would perceive it as a less significant turning point in their lives, ”explains the researcher.

Creating a chronicle of the disease is part of the therapy for anorexia.

New therapy shows success

“This is how I see myself.” - Self-portrait of an anorexic patient. An alternative to full inpatient treatment is a day clinic. “A large part of the treatment takes place during the day between 8 am and 5 pm as usual in the clinic. In the evenings and on weekends, however, those affected are at home. The advantage is: The usually lengthy and difficult separation from the family is significantly reduced, ”explains Herpertz-Dahlmann. Such a therapy is new territory for the treatment of anorexia. So can it work? This question should be answered by the world's largest clinical, non-pharmacological comparative study in anorexia. The study called ANDI (Treatment of childhood and adolescent anorexia nervosa - day treatment vs. inpatient treatment) ran for a total of eight years and included 172 patients. The project was supported with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In the end, the researchers received a clear answer: the weight gain is identical for day-clinic and full-time inpatient treatment. "The day-clinic approach is at least equivalent to our main success criterion, namely that the girls gain weight," reports the Aachen study director happily. The treatment was also very well received by most of the girls who took part in the study: 94 percent of all study participants came to the voluntary follow-up examinations after two years. Herpertz-Dahlmann finds it “an extremely good value”. In addition, the new therapy is around 20 percent cheaper than full inpatient treatment.

The vision: home treatment

A patient draws how she perceives her own body. After these encouraging findings, an important step must now follow, explains Professor Herpertz-Dahlmann: “So far, the new therapy has only been available in a few clinics. We now have to ensure that it is included in standard care throughout Germany. Only then will those affected in this country really benefit from it. ”Fortunately, there is currently great interest in the professional world and in other clinics. The researchers are already thinking ahead. “We now want to develop an app with which those affected can support their eating behavior even better. We would also like to launch a new study on 'Home Treatment', a treatment that is mainly carried out at home. In this way we could leave the patients much more in their private and social environment, ”says Herpertz-Dahlmann.

The results of the ANDI study have now been published in "The Lancet". You can read another current article on anorexia here.

Contact person:
Prof. Dr. Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann
Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen
Clinic for psychiatry, psychosomatics and psychotherapy of children and adolescents
Pauwelsstrasse 30
52074 Aachen
Tel .: 0241 808-8737
Fax: 0241 808-2544
Email: [email protected]