Often depressed individuals seek help from a mental health counselor for behavioral therapy and/or a psychiatrist who can prescribe medications such as antidepressants. But when is outpatient depression treatment not enough?

When Individual Therapy Is Not Enough

Below are some signs that depression may be severe enough to seek out more intensive treatment, such as an inpatient mental health program.

When You’re Also Abusing Substances — Mental illnesses like depression often go hand-in-hand with drug and alcohol abuse. According to NAMI, one-third of people with a mental disorder such as depression also abuse drugs or alcohol. Addiction experts refer to this as co-occurring disorders. People with untreated or undertreated mental health disorders might turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to temporarily soothe or self-medicate their symptoms. It works the other way, too. People with substance use disorders sometimes develop symptoms of depression because alcohol and drugs change the brain’s chemistry. Comprehensive treatment that simultaneously addresses both depression and alcohol or drug abuse is needed to fully recover.

When You Also Have a Behavioral Addiction —Compulsive behaviors or process addictions like problem gambling, eating, shopping and sexual behavior also frequently co-occur with depression.Like substance abuse, compulsive behaviors often develop as a means to self-soothe or self-medicate symptoms of depression. Process addictions can be just as debilitating as substance abuse, and when compounded with depression and other mental health disorders, often require specialized inpatient treatment that targets both the symptoms of depression and the triggers and underlying issues behind compulsive behaviors.

When You’ve Compromised Your Career or Relationships —Depression is commonly characterized by irritability, negativity, anger, withdrawal from social activities, and difficulty connecting or empathizing with others. By nature, these traits can adversely affect relationships at home and in the workplace. When depression is coming between you and your loved ones or having a negative impact on job performance, and these situations are not improving with outpatient therapy, it may be time to consider a more intensive approach. Most inpatient mental health rehabs address interpersonal difficulties and offer family and couples counseling as a core component of treatment.

If You’re Experiencing Extreme Inertia —Fatigue and energy loss are common signs of depression, but when this symptom stands in the way of responsibilities and daily activities, it’s become a significant problem. Some people with clinical depression begin missing work or become reclusive, lacking motivation to do anything that requires leaving their house or exerting much effort, even attending therapy. Residential care can provide the 24/7 expert oversight to ensure medications are being taken regularly, and proper nutrition and fitness are adequately in place to battle extreme lethargy and rebuild serotonin levels, motivation and purpose.

If You Have Thoughts of Suicide or Attempt Suicide —Obsessive thoughts of suicide or unsuccessful suicide attempts are major indicators that intensive inpatient treatment is needed to overcome depression. In addition to expert medical and psychological help, clients receive 24/7 care to ensure they are safe and healthy while they rediscover satisfaction and joy in life.

Why Get Inpatient Depression Treatment?

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance reports that of those receiving treatment for depression, about half are unsuccessful because of “medical non-compliance.” When you’re depressed, it’s hard to muster the motivation to follow a treatment plan closely. With round-the-clock supervision and a team of mental health professionals, you’ll be heavily supported to ensure you are taking medications, going to therapy and participating in activities that will help you feel better and put you on the road to recovery.

Residential care for depression can provide the intensive medical and psychological attention and the space needed to focus on yourself and get better, removed from life’s stressors and demands. If substance abuse or other co-occurring disorders are present, inpatient care can help eliminate destructive behaviors so you can get to the underlying issues that fuel these coping mechanisms.

Staffed with a team of mental health and addiction professionals, you’ll undergo thorough biopsychosocial assessments to ensure that current diagnoses are accurate and identify environmental, biological and emotional contributors to your condition. Treatment may draw upon an array of both traditional approaches like medication, individual, group and family therapy as well as experiential approaches like psychodrama, art and music therapy and mindfulness to tackle depression and other issues from all angles.


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