Anorexia: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Anorexia is a type of eating disorder. People who have anorexia don't eat enough to stay at a normal weight. Sometimes they also exercise too much. They do these things because they're so afraid of gaining weight. They believe that they're fat, even when they're thin. Often they think that losing even more weight will solve their problems and make their lives better.

If you have anorexia, it can really harm your health. This is because your body doesn't get the nutrition it needs. The first step to controlling the problem is admitting that something is wrong. Then counseling can help you change how you think about food, the way you see your body, and any other emotional issues. It may take months or years, but you can recover from anorexia.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself when you have an eating disorder?

Here are some things you can do to take care of yourself during recovery from an eating disorder.

Stick to your treatment plan.
Go to any counseling sessions you have. If you can't go, or don't think the sessions are helping, talk to your counselor about it. And take any medicines you've been prescribed exactly as directed.
Work on healthy eating habits.
Listen to what counselors and nutrition experts say about healthy eating. Learn about what makes a healthy and balanced diet, and then make a plan for your own healthy eating.
Learn healthy ways to deal with stress.
Managing stress is important in recovery. Find what works for you. You could try things like journaling, volunteering, reading, or meditating.
Take it easy on yourself.
Focus on your good qualities. Don't blame yourself for your disorder. And remember that recovery takes time, and that you can make progress one goal at a time.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • A person with anorexia seems depressed and is talking about suicide. If the talk about suicide seems real, stay with the person, or ask someone you trust to stay with the person, until you get emergency help.
  • You have a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Go to for more information or to chat online.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You feel hopeless or have thoughts of hurting yourself.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have trouble sleeping.
  • You feel anxious or depressed.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.