Relapse occurs commonly during recovery process, with studies showing relapse rates for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa in the range of 35-60%. Relapse is defined as returning to a level of disordered eating after a period of full or partial remission from those behaviors. In particular:

  1. failure to maintain body weight range;
  2. cessation of menstrual periods;
  3. resumption of purging or restrictive behavior;
  4. resumption of maladaptive attitudes regarding diet and food.

Studies indicate the highest risk for relapse is 6-7 months following partial symptom remission, and that if a full year can be reached relapse chances are reduced. Relapse may be often confused with less severe lapses or setbacks.  But because it is impossible to tell the difference when such periods begin, it is vital for parents to be ready for immediate action if signs of a relapse appear.

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