Inpatient Versus Outpatient Treatment For Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is one of the more serious types of eating disorders, as it has the highest fatality rate among mental illnesses. Because of this, it's important to make sure that people suffering from this illness get the proper treatment. Unfortunately, only about one-third of those who have anorexia actually get any type of treatment. Among the options are inpatient and outpatient treatment for anorexia nervosa. Taking a few things into consideration can make it clearer which type of treatment may be best.

Overall Satisfaction

One study found that people were more satisfied with outpatient eating disorder treatment than with inpatient treatment and that it tended to have better results and adherence to the treatment program. Patients like the fact that with outpatient eating disorder treatment centers their lives aren't so disrupted and they can still continue going to school or work, so it isn't as obvious to other people that they're attending treatment. It can be hard to get a month off of work for an inpatient program, for example.

Severity of Condition

In some cases, there really isn't much of a choice in the type of anorexia treatment. People with very severe anorexia who have physical complications from anorexia, suicidal tendencies, or certain lab findings often require the monitoring and treatment that is only available as part of an inpatient treatment program. Likewise, if a person isn't responding well to an adolescent outpatient eating disorder treatment program, it may be necessary to try a more intensive inpatient treatment program. Outpatient treatment is better suited to those who have a less severe form of anorexia, not for those who have life-threatening behaviors or those who need to have all of their meals supervised. Another option is intensive outpatient treatment for anorexia nervosa. This involves having three 3-hour sessions each week with various forms of therapy and some potential meal supervision. Each program typically lasts between three and four months.

Things to Consider

Before choosing a treatment program, consider whether it will be covered by insurance, the types of treatment and therapy offered, whether any other conditions the patient has can also be treated, whether the program is accredited and the overall quality of the program. It's also a good idea to take into account the personality of the patient and whether the program would be a good fit. It won't help be as easy for the person to complete the treatment successfully if they're miserable the whole time.