Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment Plans for Bulimia Nervosa


Bulimia nervosa, a grave eating disorder, is also regarded as a major mental illness affecting a wide swath of the populace, especially young women, and has a devastating effect on the patients. Since bulimics, like anorexics, have the tendency to mask the symptoms associated with the eating disorder as well as keep the mental issues they might be facing, under wraps, diagnosing the issue becomes difficult. The longer the bulimic conceals his or her eating disorder (along with the accompanying psychological issues termed as dual diagnosis disorder or co-morbidity), the more complicated will be the recuperation or healing plan.

Someone who is struggling with an eating disorder may attempt to eat “normally” in the presence of others, and then look for opportunities to be alone to find ways to binge or purge. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA

A patient who reports his bulimia nervosa disorder, after several years of having lived with the issue, should be mentally prepared to go through a protracted treatment plan before he recovers sufficiently enough.  On the other hand, bulimics who are forthcoming about their eating disorderliness and seek timely treatment start responding positively to a therapeutic program within a few days after induction into the process. Bulimia patients can opt for any or both the treatment programs available at medical facilities or centers-inpatient treatment therapy and outpatient treatment therapy.

Outpatient Treatment Plan for Bulimics                                              

Outpatient treatment plan works best for individuals who’ve been recently diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. This mode of treatment is usually the first line of treatment for those with a mild form of the disorder. There are several benefits to registering for an outpatient treatment therapy including cost-effectiveness and the leeway to continue with a normal lifestyle.

Now, there are different kinds of outpatient treatment plans including but not limited to medication plan, dietary counseling, interpersonal psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and behavioral/cognitive therapy. Patients undergoing outpatient treatment are not required to take admission in a medical facility but rather continue staying in their homes. Since they display symptoms that happen to be mild, they may not need to be kept under round the clock supervision.

Balancing serotonin levels with nutrition is central to managing the range of symptoms that occur along the eating disorders continuum. — Leslie E. Korn Ph.D., MPH, LMHC, ACS, NTP

The sort of outpatient treatment procedure that a bulimic individual needs to go for considerably depends on the extent of care required and the medical professionals who will be offering support. Usually, such a patient will have to consult a nutritionist, psychotherapist, and a psychiatrist at the least. The family, eating disorder support groups, general practitioner, social worker, and other caregivers function as supplementary resources.

Outpatient treatment is generally non-residential in nature as the patient carries on with his or her daily life while periodically reporting to a care center for interpersonal therapy and/or group therapy sessions. Broadly speaking, there are three distinct kinds of outpatient treatments for bulimics-day treatment or partial hospitalization, intensive treatment, and general treatment. In a partial hospitalization program, the patient is able to access group therapy sessions and is also offered highly nutritious meals 3-4 times in a day.

Intensive treatment plans last for 3-6 months where the patient needs to devote some hours spread over days in a week and is most suitable for those with encumbrances. An intensive treatment program incorporates group therapy, one-to-one therapy, nutritional counseling, and controlled meals. General treatment is a specialized form of intensive treatment where the assistance of medical specialists like a naturopath, chiropractor or acupuncturist is sought.

The lack of seriousness taken by many patients regarding the medical sequeale of Anorexia and Bulimia, contributes to the inability to choose the best protocol for care and therefore increases the likelihood of treatment failure. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS  

Inpatient Treatment Plan

Inpatient treatment is recommended for bulimics who’ve had the disorder for many years and are completely unable to control their cravings for bingeing and purging. Keeping such patients under constant supervision in a medical facility will go a long way in coping with the chemical imbalances that result from excessive use of laxatives, emetics or diuretics. Supervised dietary and medicinal plans help in mitigating the chemical imbalances.

The temptations that trigger bingeing or purging are not available in a medical center.


Regardless of whether someone suffers from a mild or a grave form of bulimia, the fact that the person has to seek a treatment plan is inescapable. Additionally, the bulimia patient needs to be extremely patient in persevering with the treatment plan as it might take years before he or she can recover fully.