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How to Know If You Need Inpatient Depression Treatment

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Clinically Reviewed by:
Lindsey Rae Ackerman, LMFT

Written by:
Alex Salman, MPH on February 23, 2024

Struggling with depression and mental illness can be an incredibly challenging experience, impacting every aspect of your daily life. It’s estimated that around 5% of adults around the world suffer from depression, with over half (54.7%) of adults in the US with a mental illness not receiving any type of treatment, totaling over 28 million individuals.

While many people with depression can benefit from outpatient treatment programs, there are cases in which a more intensive approach, such as inpatient depression treatment, may be both necessary and beneficial.

Recognizing the Signs of Depression

Depression is a complex, multifaceted mental health condition that can manifest in various ways. Recognizing the signs of depression is vital for better understanding what treatment options might be best to help you. 

While individuals experience depression differently, depending on several factors, there are several common indicators to be aware of:

  • Persistent Sadness: Feeling persistently sad, empty, or hopeless for most of the day, nearly every day, can be a sign of depression. This sadness isn’t necessarily linked to any particular event (such as the recent loss of a loved one) and can feel overwhelming.
  • Loss of Interest or Enjoyment: People struggling with depression may lose interest in things they used to enjoy.
  • Changes in Appetite and/or Weight: Depression can lead to significant changes in appetite, resulting in either weight loss or weight gain. Some individuals may lose interest in food, while others turn to it more often for comfort.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Changes in your sleeping patterns can be common when experiencing depression. You might experience insomnia, struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, or hypersomnia, in which you find yourself sleeping excessively.
  • Fatigue and Low Energy: Feeling constantly tired, even after a full night’s sleep, and lacking the energy to perform everyday tasks can be indicative of depression.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: Depression can affect your ability to focus, make decisions, or remember details. This cognitive fog can impact your work, relationships, and other important aspects of your life.
  • Unexplained Physical Aches and Pains: Unexplained physical symptoms such as headaches, backaches, and stomachaches can sometimes be linked to depression.
  • Feelings of Guilt or Worthlessness: Experiencing excessive guilt or feelings of worthlessness, even over minor issues, can be a hallmark of depression and its symptoms.
  • Agitation or Restlessness: Some individuals with depression may experience restlessness, irritability, or increased agitation. This can lead to difficulty relaxing or sitting still.
  • Suicidal Thoughts: If you’re having persistent thoughts of suicide, or you’ve developed a plan to end your life, it’s important to seek professional help immediately. 
  • Social Withdrawal: Withdrawing from social activities, avoiding friends and family, and isolating yourself is commonly seen in those struggling with depression. Such isolation can exacerbate other feelings of loneliness and sadness, making treatment even more important. 
  • Decreased Self-Care: Neglecting personal hygiene, grooming, and self-care routines can also be a sign of depression.
  • Persistent Negative Thoughts: Experiencing a persistent negative outlook on life, often seeing things in a pessimistic light, is commonly seen in depression.
  • Development of unhealthy coping mechanisms: Depression can often lead to adopting unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drug and alcohol use to deal with their mental health symptoms

Recognizing these depression signs is the first step toward seeking the appropriate help. If you’re experiencing several of these symptoms and they’re impacting your daily life, it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional for assessment and guidance. By expanding your awareness of these signs and taking them seriously, you can better understand your emotional state and make informed decisions about the level of treatment you may need.

Recognizing the Need for a Higher Level of Care

For some people, the severity of their depression symptoms may necessitate a higher level of care than the traditional outpatient settings for therapy and medication management. While everyone’s experience with depression is unique, there are a few common indicators that your condition may require more intensive care:

Severe Symptoms

If your depression symptoms are severe, including intense sadness, hopelessness, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it’s essential to seek immediate help. Inpatient treatment can provide a safe environment with around-the-clock support to assist those with more acute symptomatology. 

Impaired Daily Functioning

If your depression is interfering significantly with your ability to perform daily activities, such as work, school, or practices of self-care, inpatient treatment may be necessary to address your depression with a holistic and more expansive approach.

Safety Concerns

If you have a history of self-harm or are struggling with ongoing suicidal thoughts, inpatient treatment can provide a controlled and safe place where you can receive specialized care and interventions.

Lack of Progress with Outpatient Treatment

If you have been participating in outpatient treatment for a while without significant improvement, inpatient treatment can offer a more focused and immersive approach to treating your depression. 

What are the Benefits of Inpatient Mental Health Treatment?

Inpatient treatment for severe depression offers several benefits that can make a significant difference in your journey to mental well-being:

  • 24/7 Support: In an inpatient setting, you have access to constant support from a team of mental health professionals, ensuring that you’re never alone in your struggle and receive the support you need for recovery. 
  • Intensive Therapy: Inpatient programs often include a variety of therapeutic interventions, such as individual therapy, group therapy, and experiential therapies, which can accelerate your progress and healing. 
  • Structured Environment: Inpatient treatment provides a structured daily routine that helps establish healthy habits and coping mechanisms.
  • Immediate Intervention: In cases of severe depression or heightened risk, inpatient care ensures that immediate intervention is available, preventing potential crises that can arise. 

Making an Informed Decision For Your Level of Care

Deciding whether inpatient treatment for depression is the right choice involves careful consideration of various factors:

The Severity of Your Symptoms

Assess the severity of your symptoms and how much they are impacting your daily life. If they are persistent and preventing you from functioning in the day-to-day, then inpatient treatment may be beneficial.

Your Current Support System

Consider the level of support available to you outside of treatment. If your home environment is triggering or lacks a strong support system, inpatient care can offer a supportive, safe space in which to heal. 

Your Previous Treatment Experience

If you have tried outpatient treatment without significant improvement, inpatient care can provide a fresh start with the level of support you need. 

Are There Other Options to Consider?

When evaluating your treatment options for depression, it’s important to know that inpatient treatment is just one of the available paths to recovery. Depending on your needs and the severity of your condition, there are alternatives that may be more suitable, such as Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP):

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

A Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) provides a structured treatment environment during the day, allowing you to return home in the evenings. This option offers intensive individual therapy, group sessions, family therapy, and medical supervision while providing the flexibility of being in your familiar home environment at night. PHP is ideal for individuals who require a higher level of care than traditional outpatient treatment but do not need 24/7 supervision.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offers a comprehensive treatment approach while allowing you to continue living at home. IOP typically involves multiple therapy sessions per week, which can include individual therapy, group sessions, and skill-building. This level of care is suitable for individuals who need more support than traditional outpatient therapy but can manage their daily responsibilities independently.

Both PHP and IOP offer the benefit of receiving intensive treatment while maintaining some level of autonomy. They are particularly effective for individuals who require structured support without the need for round-the-clock care. Choosing between inpatient, PHP, or IOP will depend on your specific needs, the severity of your depression, and the level of support you require.

Get Started with Inpatient Depression Treatment

Struggling with depression can be overwhelming, but seeking help is a sign of strength. By understanding the signs that indicate the need for inpatient depression treatment and weighing the benefits against your circumstances, you can make an informed decision that sets you on the path to healing and recovery.

Remember, reaching out for help is an important step, and you never have to go it alone. Call Behavioral Health today to speak with a specialist to learn more about our inpatient depression treatment center in Los Angeles.  

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