Family-Based Treatment of Adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa

Abdullah Abu Khait


Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a serious and potentially fatal mental illness; it has intense influence on the lives of many individuals and their families (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorder [ANAD], 2013). Anorexia nervosa continues to affect people, particularly women from all around the world. The spread of western standards of beauty have made this a common disease in other parts of the world as well, where previously anorexia was not prevalent. The concept of anorexia nervosa describes itself. It is identified as loss of appetite due to nervous reasons (Grange & Eisler, 2009). However, AN burdens individuals with an unyielding obsession with weight loss and food restriction, eventually leading to extreme emaciation and even death. This obsession can lead to very perfectionism outlook towards body and body image, with the result that the patient may start to starve him or herself in orders to stay slim (Goldenberg, 2008).

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2012), AN is an eating disorder characterized by achieving a low body weight and distorted body image intentionally. Knows about anorexic patients that they control their weight by starving themselves, exercise excessively, or other means of weight control, such as diet pills, diuretic drugs, and ingestion paper tissues (Gardner & Wilkinson, 2011).

Further, Anorexia nervosa is a disorder arising most commonly in adolescence, AN which primarily affects adolescent girls and young women between 15 and 22 years (Grange & Eisler, 2009).

Few studies were conducted in Jordan about anorexia nervosa and family treatment, where there is less reporting about such eating disorder from patients and their families, in Jordan, there are no specialized centers to deal with such eating disorder. At the National Center for Mental Health there is no clear policy or integrated treatment plan to deal with this group of patients where the parents are ignored in the treatment plan where they have the greatest role in the treatment plan and deviate pressures and negative aspects that contribute to the worsening of the disease.

So, the aim of this paper is to provide a general understanding of full picture about the role of family treatment in anorexia nervosa and to examine these adolescent studies more closely and put family-based treatment forward as a promising approach for this patient population, and this paper will remark the significance and strengths of family therapy for the treatment of adolescents with anorexia, In order to achieve that, this paper will define family treatment strategies, Family based treatment,  and corroborative evidences and contrary evidences. Finally, the paper will provide proposed recommendations for Jordanian psychiatric nurses based on the available scientific evidences about the effectiveness family treatment to manage and deal with anorexia nervosa.

AN is a serious disorder affecting both psychological and physical health (Lock et al., 2010). Anorexic patients habitually have low self-confidence, extreme dislike their body and frustrated (Smink, Hoeken, & Hoek, 2012). Anorexics often set unrealistic goals and feel enormous guilt when they fail to accomplish those goals (Cooper, 2005).

Anorexia leads to impair the brain and nerves (ANAD, 2013). Anorexics are embarrassments or suffer from poor judgment; they are often sad, irritable, depressed, and moody (APA, 2012). Anorexia nervosa may become one of the chronic diseases that lead to death in world widely among adolescents girls in developed countries (ANAD, 2013).

Anorexia nervosa has bad consequences physically; for illustration, hypotension, bradycardia, heart failure, weakness in the muscles, anemic, and severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance (ANAD, 2013; Nathalie et al., 2012).

Furthermore, women may irregular menstruating or amenorrhea and sexual dysfunction. Anorexics risky for seizures, immunity diseases, depression, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, anxiety, and substance abuse (ANAD, 2013; APA, 2012; Nathalie et al., 2012).

Sociocultural factors play vital role in development of AN in psychologically vulnerable adolescent females (Imran & Ashraf, 2008).The cultural variations have led to a wide spread adoption of western styles, habits, and attitudes. These variations include a shift in the lifestyle from active to sedentary and in the eating patterns which are changed to fast food (Imran & Ashraf, 2008; Wozniak, Rekleiti, & Roupa, 2012).

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