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Keywords:

  • anorexia nervosa;
  • exposure therapy;
  • relapse prevention;
  • anxiety;
  • cognitive-behavior therapy;
  • eating disorders;
  • phobia;
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder

Abstract

Objective:

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a life threatening and difficult to treat illness with a high relapse rate. Current treatments are inadequate and new approaches to treatment are needed.

Method:

We review the data on anxiety in AN, the relationship between anxiety disorders and AN, and the use of Exposure and Response Prevention in treatment.

Results:

The overlap between AN and anxiety disorders suggest a model of AN in which baseline anxiety features yield eating related fears, avoidance behaviors, and ritualized safety behaviors that promote the underweight state and the perpetuation of the disorder. We propose an Exposure and Response Prevention treatment to prevent relapse in AN.

Discussion:

Overlap between AN and anxiety disorders suggests that Exposure and Response Prevention may be a new and beneficial approach to preventing relapse in individuals with AN. © 2010 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.