Most depression -- over 90% -- is treated on an outpatient basis. But, in cases of severe depression or treatment-resistant depression, some people need to stay in the hospital for a short time. You might seek hospitalization yourself. Or you could be hospitalized under a doctor's order.
There is an unfortunate stigma associated with being hospitalized. Many people feel ashamed, as if it's a sign that they are "crazy" or "weak." Some people fear that being hospitalized is the same thing as being institutionalized or sent to an asylum.
If you've been diagnosed with clinical depression, you may be having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. There's a reason for that. There is a definite link between lack of sleep and depression. In fact, one of the common signs of depression is insomnia or an inability to fall and stay asleep.
That's not to say insomnia or other sleep problems are caused only by depression. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the U.S., affecting nearly one out of every three adults at some point...
But that's not the case. Usually, a stay in the hospital is just a way for you to recover in a safe and stable environment. This allows you to take a break from some of the daily stresses that contributed to your depression. Your health care providers can work with you to try different treatments and figure out which are best.
Most people don't like being in the hospital. You may not like the routine, the food, or the other patients. It might be frightening. But look at it this way: Depression is an illness, as real and as serious as heart disease or cancer. And sometimes depression -- just like other serious diseases -- requires treatments that can only be provided in a hospital.
Who Needs to Be Hospitalized for Depression?
There are many people with depression who might benefit from a hospital stay. Here are some examples.
People who are at risk of hurting themselves or others. Preventing suicide and violence is the most common reason for hospitalization. A stay in the hospital allows you to get back in control.
People who are unable to function. Hospitalization makes sense if you are so depressed that you can't take care of yourself.
People who need observation when trying a new medication. Sometimes, your doctor may be fine-tuning your depression medicine and advise doing so under the close supervision of the hospital. Since you will be under constant observation there, your doctor will be able to see more easily how well a treatment is working.
People who need treatments that are given only in a hospital. Some treatments, like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), are usually given in the hospital. A stay in the hospital allows you to recover from anesthesia and gives your doctors a chance to see how you're doing after treatment.