Time course of symptom remission in eating disorders


  • Loa Clausen

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, University of Aarhus, Riskov, Denmark
    2. Eating Disorder Centre, Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Aarhus University Hospital, Riskov, Denmark
    • Eating Disorder Centre, Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Harald Selmersvej 66, 8240 Risskov, Denmark
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The study was carried out to test whether time to remission varies for different eating disorder symptoms.


Sixty-five patients (35 anorexic patients and 30 bulimic patients) treated with psychotherapy were interviewed 2½ years after initial assessment.


The anorexic physical symptoms remitted before the psychological symptoms of anorexia and bulimia nervosa, as did the bulimic behaviors: binging and purging. Nonpurging compensatory behavior and obsession with weight and shape were the last symptoms to remit. Differences between the anorexic and bulimic groups were found between the remission order of psychological symptoms.


In spite of different treatments and symptoms between patients, the results support the notion of a common pattern in the process of change including a long and stepwise course. The results detail a template of the course to recovery for eating disorders. © 2004 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 36: 296–306, 2004.