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Bringing Partner Into Anorexia Treatment May Aid Recovery
Date:4/29/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Margie Hodgin of Turnersville, N.C., was in her early forties when she developed anorexia nervosa, and she knows how isolating the condition can be.

"In the middle of a disorder like that, you don't know how to explain your feelings to those around you," she said.

Luckily, Hodgin sought the care of a therapist who suggested a new and often effective treatment: an intensive counseling program that also involved Hodgin's husband.

She said the program, called Uniting Couples (in the treatment of) Anorexia Nervosa (UCAN), was probably more effective -- both for her own recovery and her marriage -- than other outpatient programs she had gone to alone because she and her husband could get "down and dirty" about what was going on.

"It opened a lot of channels," recalled Hodgin, now 47. "I had a lot of shame and embarrassment. It changed our relationship from almost a parent-child relationship and put us more on an even standing where we were partners again."

Her successful recovery from anorexia while on the program isn't unique. In fact, over a six-month span, researcher Cynthia M. Bulik and her colleagues saw only a 5 percent dropout rate among the 13 couples enrolled in UCAN. In contrast, traditional anorexia therapy typically has a 25 percent to 40 percent dropout rate, according to Bulik.

Participants' body mass indexes (BMIs) also increased more after three months than those typically observed among patients in traditional programs, the researchers found.

Bulik was scheduled to present her findings on the UCAN program Thursday at the International Conference on Eating Disorders in Miami.

Typically considered an adolescent disorder, anorexia -- marked by extreme weight loss and intense fear of becoming fat -- is increasingly common among midlife women, many of whom are in committed relationships, Bul
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