MONDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Family-based treatment for anorexic teenagers may be more effective in the long-term than individual counseling, a new study finds.
"Family therapy has been part of the landscape for the treatment of anorexia nervosa for maybe 40 years, but this specific form has been evolving as a likely effective treatment for the last 10," said Dr. James Lock, lead author of a study in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. "But this is the first study to actually compare this treatment to an active treatment."
Anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder most common among teenage girls, can stunt growth, delay puberty and reduce peak bone mass. Almost 6 percent of anorexics die from heart failure or suicide each decade, the authors write.
"Family treatment is offered in specialty centers but not typically available in most communities," said Lock, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. "This would be an argument to bolster [its] availability, and training people to be able to use it."
The family therapy model featured in this trial involved the family in treatment as opposed to simply blaming parents for causing the disorder.
"The tradition through much of modern mental health was the parents were somehow the fault or to be blamed, and for treatment you had to get the patient out from underneath the family that caused it," said Dr. Richard E. Kreipe, medical director of the Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders Program at Golisano Children's Hospital, University of Rochester Medical Center.
But practitioners are moving away from this model.
"The idea here is that the disorder is disabling and confusing to both the patient and to the family, and that the family actually needs to learn how to help directly solve the problem of the child eating and over-exercising
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