Hospitalization for eating disorders

Hospitalization may be necessary if you have serious physical or mental health problems or if you have anorexia and are unable to eat or gain weight. Severe or life-threatening physical health problems that occur with anorexia can be a medical emergency.

In many cases, the most important goal of hospitalization is to stabilize acute medical symptoms through beginning the process of normalizing eating and weight. The majority of eating and weight restoration takes place in the outpatient setting.

Hospital day treatment programs

Day treatment programs are structured and generally require attendance for multiple hours a day, several days a week. Day treatment can include medical care; group, individual and family therapy; structured eating sessions; and nutrition education.

Residential treatment for eating disorders

With residential treatment, you temporarily live at an eating disorder treatment facility. A residential treatment program may be necessary if you need long-term care for your eating disorder or you've been in the hospital a number of times but your mental or physical health hasn't improved.

Ongoing treatment for health problems

Eating disorders can cause serious health problems related to inadequate nutrition, overeating, bingeing and other factors. The type of health problems caused by eating disorders depends on the type and severity of the eating disorder. In many cases, problems caused by an eating disorder require ongoing treatment and monitoring.

Health problems linked to eating disorders may include:

  • Electrolyte imbalances, which can interfere with the functioning of your muscles, heart and nerves
  • Heart problems and high blood pressure
  • Digestive problems
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Dental cavities and erosion of the surface of your teeth from frequent vomiting (bulimia)
  • Low bone density (osteoporosis) as a result of irregular or absent menstruation or long-term malnutrition (anorexia)
  • Stunted growth caused by poor nutrition (anorexia)
  • Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or substance abuse
  • Lack of menstruation and problems with infertility and pregnancy

Take an active role

You are the most important member of your treatment team. For successful treatment, you need to be actively involved in your treatment and so do your family members and other loved ones. Your treatment team can provide education and tell you where to find more information and support.

There's a lot of misinformation about eating disorders on the web, so follow your treatment team's advice and get suggestions on reputable websites to learn more about your eating disorder. Examples of helpful websites include the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), as well as Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders (F.E.A.S.T.).

July 14, 2017 See more In-depth