"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% 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.