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Minerva Psichiatrica 2010 September;51(3):217-29

language: English

Cognitive behavioral therapy and non-specific supportive clinical management in individuals with longstanding anorexia nervosa

McCann E. 1, McCormick L. 2, Bowers W. 2, Hoffman V. 3

1 Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA;
2 Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA, USA;
3 Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA, USA


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Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a severe psychiatric illness primarily affecting a growing number of adolescent girls and young women, but its etiology is not well understood. Approximately half of all individuals treated for AN will never fully recover, and approximately 20% will remain chronically ill. For those who do finally recover, it often takes five-seven years for that to occur. While the basic pathophysiology of most psychiatric disorders is beginning to be understood at some level, relatively little is known about what causes anorexia nervosa or how to best treat this devastating disorder. The objectives of this paper are to: 1) describe what we know about the nature and course of AN; 2) review the literature on cognitive behavioral therapy and non-specific clinical management as viable methods of treatment for AN; and 3) call attention to the fact that more research is necessary to improve outcomes of people suffering with both acute and longstanding AN. Methodological problems of study design and implementation for better treatments of longstanding AN as well as future directions of research will also be discussed.

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