Is Residential or Day Treatment the Right Choice for Eating Disorders?

When someone close to you gets a diagnosis of an eating disorder, it brings up difficult feelings. You may argue, or feel you or the person in question did something wrong – and these feelings are normal. However, negativity doesn’t accomplish anything. The important thing is to take action and get him or her the help they need. The most essential choice you’ll make together is finding the right treatment center that provides treatment for anorexia and other eating disorders. Often this means choosing between a day treatment (outpatient) and residential (inpatient) treatment programs.

What to Know About DayTreatment for Eating Disorders

Day treatment, or outpatient treatment, is ideal for a variety of treatment situations. It’s a less intensive program than residential treatment and usually comes at a lower cost than residential treatment. During day treatment, the client will visit the center several times a week, or daily, to progress through talk therapy with the staff. One of the most compelling of these is to use this type of treatment as a step-down from the more intensive treatment that residential care offers. 

Often the transition from a full residential program to a return to daily life is a difficult one. Even after 30 or more days in intensive treatment, further therapy is needed to prevent relapse and provide resolution for emotional and behavioral progress made during that time.

Outpatient treatment is also the better option for parents, students, and professionals, and others who can’t afford to take a month or more away from their responsibilities. In most cases, the eating disorder treatment facility can provide after-work or weekend hours so the individual can maintain their life while still working to gain a recovered life.

It’s considered impolite to discuss money matters, but eating disorder treatment is too important to let fear of making a social faux pas get in the way. The other major advantage of day treatment is that it’s generally less expensive than residential treatment – things like food, room and board, and 24/7 medical supervision, while necessary, can really add up. Insurance providers may be more able to make accommodations for day treatment programs.

What to Know About Residential Eating Disorders Treatment

Residential treatment involves the client living at the treatment center for a length of time (usually beginning at 30 days) and receiving 24/7 care.Although 30 days is a guideline, the exact length of stay is not typically defined when an individual enters treatment because there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan, completion date, or other aspects of care.

Residential eating disorder treatment is helpful for more intense or long-term cases of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorders, especially those I which medical care is necessary to stabilize the individual. Many eating disorders can cause health complications that require specialized treatment, like anemia, heart failure, or malnutrition. 

Residential treatment is also preferable in the case of a dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder. Dual diagnoses are very common with eating disorders, and they can complicate the necessary treatment program. For example, anxiety disorders such as OCD can trigger or amplify the symptoms of an eating disorder, and if they aren’t treated (after medical stabilization) at the same time, all the progress made can be lost. Co-occurring eating disorder treatment can also be useful in cases of addiction or substance abuse, which is also common in people with eating disorders. People with anorexia nervosa often abuse “diet pills” which are a form of amphetamine, and other drugs that stimulate the metabolism such as cocaine.

Most importantly, residential treatment programs offer a comprehensive program that can change a client’s life entirely. Beyond the treatment of the direct eating disorder symptoms, residential programs can change perspective on body image, stress management, interpersonal relationships, and more. It’s the better choice for more intense cases of ED as well as people who need treatment for more than one disorder.

Close to Home Or in a New Place?

For many friends and family members who are considering if an inpatient or outpatient treatment center for eating disorders is best for their loved one, distance may be a factor. Outpatient centers almost exclusively provide service for people living within driving distance of the facility, by necessity. Residential centers can treat people from all over the country – in fact, this distance from home makes it easier for the client to focus more fully on her recovery and finding her own healthy self once again. The change of scenery (and many centers are located on aesthetically and naturally beautiful locations) at the treatment center, they can focus on getting better and making a full recovery.

About Shahbaz Ahmed

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