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Criteria for Hospitalization for Anorexia

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According to the National Eating Disorder Association, there are currently 20 million women and 10 million men with eating disorders in the United States. It goes without saying, people suffering from anorexia need to seek professional help and the earlier treatment is received, the better the outcome will be.

Anorexia: What is it?

Anorexia nervosa is a complicated and complex eating disorder which can happen to both men and women. The disorder is classified by three main features; a person refuses to maintain a healthy body weight, has an intense fear of gaining weight and carries a distorted image of what their body looks like. People with anorexia have an intense fear of becoming fat or are disgusted with the way their body looks.

Anorexia: Not About Food and Dieting

It may come as a surprise, but anorexia isn’t about food and dieting, at least these reasons are not what fuel the disorder. Eating disorders are very complicated and are most often the result of something much deeper. People develop an eating disorder most commonly because of depression, low self-esteem, insecurity, peer pressure, loneliness and feeling no control over their life. No amount of dieting or weight loss can compensate or cure an eating disorder.

Criteria for Hospitalization

There are different reasons why someone may be hospitalized for anorexia and these include psychiatric, medical or medical complications related to the disorder. A person may be hospitalized for anorexia if there’s a refusal to comply with treatment, suicide threats, severe anxiety and/or depression, the presence of another mental issue or because of having a poor response to outpatient treatment.

The medical criteria for hospitalizing someone for anorexia may include; poor skin turgor, loss of muscle mass, brittle hair and fingernails, sore joints, loss of menstrual cycle, constipation, and an intolerance to cold.
While the signs of starvation or malnutrition might not land someone in the hospital for anorexia, it’s a fair assumption it is only a matter of time before it happens. Some other reasons for hospitalization due to anorexia can include; the need for testing and diagnosis, weight loss that has exceeded 25 percent of a person’s total body weight within three months, severe dehydration, infection of any kind, low heart rate, anemia, low body temperature, vomiting up blood, and low potassium levels.

Anorexia Treatment

The first thing to do in treating anorexia is to address any serious health issues and get a person stabilized. If a person is seriously malnourished or distressed to the point of being suicidal, emergency hospitalization is required. Someone could be hospitalized in order to be put on a high calorie diet to gain weight.

The second component of treating anorexia could include outpatient treatment, but this is only possible for people who are not in serious medical danger. Anorexia is treated through nutritional counseling. A nutritionist will help an anorexic develop a healthy diet that includes enough calories to reach and maintain a healthy weight.


Although the overall prognosis for anorexia is favorable, this isn’t the case for all people suffering from it. Among psychiatric disorders, anorexia is the one with the highest mortality rate because of cardiac complications or suicide.