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What are the Criteria for Hospitalization for Anorexia?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated: Jan 26, 2024

The criteria for hospitalization for anorexia can either be medical or psychological in nature, and they may vary based on the medical center. Patients are normally required to have severe or progressed forms of the condition in which physical or mental stability is compromised. Psychological indications that hospitalization is necessary include psychosis, suicide threats or attempts, or severe anxiety or depression. Medical reasons can include signs of starvation, heart issues, and other organ malfunction.

Most patients who end up requiring hospitalization for anorexia have had the condition for a long time and have deteriorated in physical health or mental stability. If a patient isn’t doing well in an outpatient treatment facility, hospitalization may be required to further treatment. Those who have other mental health conditions, such as severe depression or psychosis may also require hospitalization, as well as those who are suicidal or who have made a suicide attempt.

Physical issues can also lead to hospitalization for anorexia, including starvation and the related effects it has on the body. This can include heart and other organ failure, which can be fatal if left untreated. Patients may receive intravenous fluids and a high fat liquid diet if they refuse to eat. The stomach has often shrunk by this point, so it has to be slowly stretched to hold more food at once.

The exact criteria for hospitalization for anorexia will depend on the medical center. Some mental health hospitals will accept patients based on a doctor’s recommendation for treatment or simply based on the patient’s ability to pay. Government funded centers generally have stricter guidelines because they are often understaffed and have several patients waiting to get in.

Many patients will require both medical and mental hospitalization for anorexia, first to treat any medical issues and then to treat the underlying emotional and mental problems which often cause this eating disorder. This will vary for every individual, since there are a variety of factors which can contribute to anorexia. They can include mental illness, abuse, and other emotional trauma.

To get treatment, patients should begin by seeing their family doctor or a trained mental health professional. He or she can diagnose the condition and decide the best course of action. Those who cannot afford a private hospital may need a referral in order to attend an inpatient hospital funded by the government. If a patient is not in immediate danger of harming himself, an outpatient treatment plan may be offered instead.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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