"Astonished" is not a good thing

There's bad news and good news here: Researchers 'Astonished' by Anorexia Death Rates

The good news is that treatment does seem to be improving recovery rates.
The bad news: how many ways anorexia kills, and how it lurks waiting for its chance to harm over time.

The news to use: initial recovery isn't the end of our job as caregivers. Instead of "recovery" we can think of of initial stabilization as "remission" and commit to vigilance and open arms and ears to guard against relapse.

It is essential that we look this illness straight in the face and address it with all the courage and force we have at our disposal. Yet along with death statistics we must also do this: realize that death is only a small measure of the suffering of this illness. Patients who linger in anorexia and related brain conditions don't just die or not die - they suffer. Horribly, unfairly, and often alone.

We need better treatment not just to save lives from death, but from the living death of unremitting illness.


  1. A powerful piece Laura - and timely for me. One problem i have with some approaches to eating disorders and indeed with most recent developments in the organisation of NHS psychiatric services is their short term nature. Maybe specialist services always will just be short term, but generalist doctors and indeed carers, need to know this stuff.

  2. It would be interesting to study what types of treatments are associated with higher and lower death rates. I wonder if the Swedish medical records would provide that kind of information.

  3. Reading the article reminds me of the author, Caroline Knapp, who seemed to hit all the major killers of these Swedish anorexics: alcoholism, anorexia and finally cancer (I think lung cancer?). What a future. Not what I want or plan for my daughter.


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