What is the prognosis of anorexia nervosa?

Updated: Jun 10, 2019
  • Author: Bettina E Bernstein, DO; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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The prognosis of anorexia nervosa is guarded. Morbidity rates range from 10-20%, with only 50% of patients making a complete recovery. Of the remaining 50%, 20% remain emaciated and 25% remain thin. [54, 55]

The remaining 10% become overweight or die of starvation. However, mortality from the complications of starvation is less frequent in patients with anorexia nervosa than is death from suicide. [56, 57, 58, 55, 59] A history of previous suicide attempts, physical pain, drug use, and laxative use may correlate with a higher likelihood of suicide attempts. [56, 57, 60] Metacognition plays a role in predicting adverse outcomes or suicide, as does alexithymia. [61]

Recovery from anorexia nervosa generally is accompanied by resumption in growth, although there may be residual loss of height that is linear in nature. [62]

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