Does Clinical Depression Respond Better to Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment?

When clinical depression strikes, what is the best way to receive treatment? Are patients better off checking into a 24-hour mental health treatment center where they can receive round-the-clock help, or are they better served by day programs, which allow them to maintain much of their daily life while working to overcome their depression?

A Small Study Asking a Big Question

In a recent study published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, researchers followed 44 patients living with a diagnosis of depression. The majority (97.7 percent) had experienced clinical depression, and one patient had a less severe form of depression known as dysthymia. The participants were randomly assigned to either inpatient or outpatient treatment for two months. As detailed on the website ScienceDaily, the two groups were treated by the same staff members and received identical amounts of psychotherapy. Some participants entered the study already using antidepressant medications. Six of those patients had their dosage lowered or were weaned off the drugs entirely during the study period. Another four patients either began antidepressant therapy or had their dosages increased.

Results Look About the Same for Both Groups

A single participant was switched from one antidepressant drug class to another class. By the end of the study, 51.4 percent of the participants were using antidepressant medications. Perhaps most intriguing, the researchers found no link between starting a patient on antidepressants or upping the amount of antidepressant medication the person was taking and a lowering of depression symptoms. The investigators witnessed an overall improvement for participants, but they did not detect any notable differences in efficacy between inpatient depression treatment versus outpatient depression treatment. In fact, three participants in each group achieved remission. Eight of the inpatient subjects were considered responders while six of the outpatient subjects were identified responders. Given the significant differences in cost between the two approaches, identifying areas where one achieves better results than another is an important question.  

Call 844.875.5609 To Speak With A Professional About Depression Treatment Options

  There may yet be patients who would receive greater benefit from inpatient care though this study suggests that more information is needed in order to identify which patient profiles would be best suited to different forms of clinical depression treatment. The severity of a person’s depression symptoms may determine whether inpatient or outpatient level care is required. This study indicates that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and an individualized therapy approach typically produces the best results.

Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient Depression Treatment

Aside from the fact that inpatient treatment requires staying in a residential facility, which outpatient does not, the options do have some differentiating factors that are important to know about before deciding which level of care is best to treat a patient’s clinical depression. In an inpatient therapy program, patients have the ability to disconnect from the outside world and focus on their own mental health and healing. Structured programs ensure that patients are receiving the level and quality of care that they need. Those experiencing severe depression have constant support around the clock and may be provided with medication to manage their symptoms. Outpatient therapy programs allow patients to go about their daily lives while regularly checking in with a licensed therapist. The same practices of cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy are applied, and medication may be involved as well. This can certainly be a good option for those with more manageable depression symptoms seeking a lighter course of treatment.

Clinical Depression and Substance Abuse

Clinical depression and substance abuse can sometimes be linked. Many times, people suffering from a substance use disorder also have an underlying mental health issue, resulting in a dual diagnosis. At Promises, we treat each person individually. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse as a result of clinical depression, call 844.875.5609 today to learn more about the path to recovery.

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