Jun 22nd 2023
Depression is a mental health condition that causes symptoms such as low mood, impaired daily functioning, and changes in behavior, sleep, and appetite. Clinical depression is often treated with therapy and medication, but may sometimes require hospitalization in severe cases, to ensure safety and stabilize mental health.
Often, someone with depression can effectively manage their symptoms with the help of professional treatment, such as medication and therapy, while continuing to live at home. However, there are times when this approach is not enough to keep the individual safe, and they may require hospitalization.
If someone with depression is at a high risk of suicide, it might be necessary for them to be admitted to hospital to ensure their safety . While it is not always clear if someone is considering suicide, there are certain warning signs or risk behaviors that might indicate that someone is at an increased risk, such as :
Sometimes, someone who has decided to end their life might suddenly appear much brighter and happier, thereby causing their friends and family to think that their mental health has improved. If someone has been depressed and suddenly shows a dramatic improvement in their mood, this may also be a warning sign that they are considering suicide .
In these cases, it may be necessary to receive treatment in a hospital to stabilize the individual’s mental and physical wellbeing and ensure their safety.
However, if they lack insight or are not able to make the decision to receive inpatient care, it may be necessary for someone else, such as a family member, friend, or professional, to request that the individual be admitted to hospital involuntarily, in their best interest .
The laws around involuntary admission may vary depending on the area in which you live, so you may wish to discuss this with a professional or research how these laws are applied in your area .
Inpatient treatment for depression will initially involve an assessment of your mental state, followed by the implementation of treatment. You will have access to a multidisciplinary team of professionals, which will likely include a psychiatrist, psychologist, medical physician, nurses, and specialized therapists, such as an occupational therapist .
You may be prescribed a new medication that can help with managing acute symptoms of depression, such as an antidepressant. If you were previously prescribed a medication, this may be stopped or altered if it was ineffective. Your doctor will ensure you are prescribed a medication that works for you and that it is being taken appropriately and as prescribed.
Your physical health will be closely monitored while in hospital, to ensure that you do not experience side effects or unwanted responses to medication, and to treat any physical health concerns that may have occurred prior to admission.
A team of professionals will monitor your wellbeing, noting any changes in your mental state and ensuring your safety, especially if you are at a high risk of suicide or self-harm. If this risk is particularly high, you may be placed under constant observation until your mental health has stabilized, to guarantee your safety.
You will likely receive various types of therapy, which may include:
While in hospital, you will likely be expected to follow a schedule, including set mealtimes, therapy sessions, medication times, and meetings with professionals, which can help to provide structure into your daily life.
With this structure, you will be able to receive a break from usual life stressors, such as cooking, cleaning, and remembering medication, which will all be managed by other people. This will allow you to focus solely on your mental health and engaging in the things that you need for your recovery, such as resting, self-care, and therapeutic activities.
Before you are discharged from hospital, your team will make a discharge plan with you, which will likely include:
If you are worried about your mental health and feel that you would benefit from treatment in a hospital, you can speak to your doctor or a mental health professional about your concerns. They will likely be able to help admit you to hospital, if they agree that it is appropriate or necessary for your wellbeing .
However, it may not always be possible to receive care in hospital, such as if there are no spaces available, if you cannot afford inpatient treatment, or if a professional considers it would be unnecessary or detrimental to your wellbeing, so you may need to discuss alternative options to manage your symptoms and ensure that you will be safe and can access necessary treatment .
If you admit yourself to hospital voluntarily, this also allows you the opportunity to request voluntary discharge. Upon requesting to leave hospital, you will likely be reviewed and assessed by a team of professionals to determine if it safe for you to do so .
If it is decided that it is not safe or appropriate for you to be discharged at that time, your doctor can decide to keep you in hospital until your mental state is stabilized, thus making you an involuntary inpatient. Again, these laws may vary depending on the area, so it is important to be aware of these processes by requesting further information from professionals in your area .
If you are in a mental health crisis, you can call or text 988 from any phone to be linked to immediate support. You can also present to your local emergency department for evaluation.
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