There are really a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to eating disorders. One of the most prevalent is that once you’re diagnosed with an eating disorder you’re stuck with that eating disorder for life.

New research actually disproves this belief and sheds light on a few other misconceptions.

Recovery is Actually the Norm!

The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry conducted a longitudinal study of with young females who were originally diagnosed with either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. The researchers used the then-current DSM-III to make their diagnoses. In a series of follow-ups, the researchers contacted the girls 9, 20 and 25 years post treatment to determine whether eating disorder recovery was possible long term. The results are pretty outstanding.

The researchers behind the study found that over three-fifths of girls with anorexia nervosa (62%) recovered twenty years later. An even higher percentage of girls originally diagnosed with bulimia nervosa (68%) showed remission of symptoms at the twenty-two-year mark.

This actually took the researchers by surprise because the nine-year follow-up with girls with anorexia didn’t seem to indicate that such a positive change was a probable long-term outcome. At one point in time, it was believed that eating disorders like anorexia were unquestionable life sentences and you simply had to “cope” with symptoms. Recent findings, though, dispel all that.

The study mentioned above found that 31% of girls with anorexia nervosa had recovered by the nine-year follow-up. The leap ahead to 62% recovery says a lot about these girls desire to get better and the improvement of treatment options over the years. While this study, originally conducted in 1987, shows great promise for eating order discovery there is one problem. One issue with the study, though, is that it only looked at girls: The fact is that 10 million males struggle with eating disorders. However, there is more and more hope for everyone suffering from an eating disorder.

The American Psychology Association recommends family therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy to help work through the issues that might be causing your eating disorder. Family therapy for anorexia, in particular, has shown effectiveness in helping anorexics attain a healthier weight and more satisfying body image.

The largest bulimia study of its kind found that cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are great for helping bulimics address personal psychological factors and environmental causes of their disorder. If you are ready to change, recovery is absolutely a reachable goal!