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Learn / Can You Go to Rehab for Depression?

Can You Go to Rehab for Depression?

Kayla GillKayla Gill


Kayla oversees RehabPath’s content strategy and creation. She holds over 6 years of experience in the rehab space, including in-house content management at a luxury treatment center and founding a rehab-specialized content marketing agency. She believes addiction and mental health issues are universal human experiences that can serve as important entry points onto a path towards self-realization and wellbeing. Kayla travels excessively but calls Northern Thailand home, and studies yoga, dance, and martial arts.
 Published October 8th, 2018|  Professionally Reviewed By 
Olivia Mueller

 Reviewed by Olivia Mueller on May 14, 2021

Olivia holds over 10 years of experience in the addiction treatment industry and a Master’s in Addiction Studies from King’s College London, University of Adelaide, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

If you’re having serious thoughts about suicide or self-harm, immediate help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website to chat with an emotional support counselor

Did you know many luxury rehabs don’t just treat addictions, but mental health and mood disorders like depression, too? In fact, many people could greatly benefit from inpatient treatment for depression.

The seriousness of depression shouldn’t be underestimated—the prolonged feelings of sorrow depression causes can hinder your ability to be an active participant in your own life and make you feel hopeless, drained and physically unwell. Depression is a life-threatening mental illness1 and often requires professional help.

Could inpatient depression treatment be the right path for you? Following, we’ll take a look at

  • When to go to rehab for depression
  • Who benefits from inpatient depression treatment
  • Where to find residential treatment centers for depression

When Do You Need Inpatient Depression Treatment?

People choose to go to residential rehab for depression for a few reasons. These could have to do with the severity of their depression, feeling like they’ve exhausted other treatment options, or wanting a retreat-like atmosphere to reset.

Your primary care doctor or qualified mental health professional can help you determine if inpatient depression treatment is the right step for you. Following are some signs that it may help you consider a more in-depth approach to tackling this persistent condition.

When Depression Takes Over Your Life

Sometimes depression is manageable, but other times it’s downright unbearable. Some depression sufferers experience such profound sadness that they can’t think of anything else. This common mood disorder can weigh heavily on those who struggle with it, making it difficult to find joy or pleasure in anything. And in this context, even simple tasks like showering, cleaning the house, and grocery shopping can feel virtually impossible.

Other signs of severe depression that could be a cue to talk to a mental health provider include

  • Isolating yourself from friends and family
  • Inability to hold a steady job
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope
  • Not leaving your house for days at a time
  • Dramatic weight loss or weight gain
  • Bouts of unexplainable sadness and crying
  • Hurting yourself
  • Thoughts or attempts at suicide

If depression interferes with your ability to function in your everyday life, you might find relief in the higher level of care and surrounding support that rehab provides.

When Other Therapies Haven’t Worked

For some people, conventional depression treatment methods just don’t do the trick. Treatment-resistant depression2 occurs in about 10-30% of those who are with diagnosed major depression. This means that even after first-line approaches like antidepressants and talk therapy, they may still experience thoughts of self-harm or suicide, find it hard to function, and be likely to relapse into another depressive episode.

However, other options are available. Several alternative therapies for treatment-resistant depression3 are shown to work effectively, including:

  • transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS),
  • ketamine-assisted therapy (KAT),
  • and combined medication and psychotherapy.

A number of inpatient rehabs are equipped with the professional staff and programming required to treat mental health and addiction comprehensively. This means they offer more opportunities to try different treatment options, including approaches that involve combining therapies.

If you’ve tried multiple medication strategies, or you’ve been in outpatient therapy for a long time without making significant progress, a more intensive option like a residential program rehab may help you make the change you’ve been looking for.

When You Need a Change of Scenery

Our surroundings have a huge impact on our mood, and environmental factors can affect the experience of depression. In fact, the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse includes supportive environments in its recommendations for fostering mental health4 . “Mental health promotion involves actions that support people to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles and which create supportive living conditions or environments for health,” according to their report summary Promoting Mental Health: Concepts, Emerging Evidence, Practice.

Research also suggests that spending more time in nature can have a positive effect on mood disorders5 . Many residential treatment facilities are located in serene, naturally beautiful areas for just this reason.

Inpatient treatment offers a chance to step away from day-to-day life, which many people find makes them more receptive to change. It can also be a good option for anyone who wants a more immersive treatment experience, even if their depression isn’t especially severe.

How Rehab Can Help Depression

Residential depression rehab allows you to commit fully to your recovery for a period of time. For those who haven’t had success with more less structured treatment options, this could mean more potential to impact your relationship with yourself, and new opportunities to see different results.

Highly Individualized Programming

High-quality rehab programs are often designed to provide you with a fully customized treatment plan. This is based on thorough assessments you receive before and during the intake, or admissions, process. These centers usually have a wide array of therapeutic methods at their disposal, from individual and group psychotherapy to experiential and holistic approaches. Your team of clinicians—comprised of some combination of medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and complementary therapists—can combine different elements into a treatment plan just for you. This is good news for your outcomes, as experts agree that depression treatment is more effective with a multifaceted approach6 .

Sharing Your Experience and Learning from Others’ 

One of the most difficult aspects of depression is the crippling loneliness it entails. At a rehab that treats depression, you’ll be with others who have been through what you’re going through and understand how you feel. You’ll spend every day in an environment of professionals who can help you unpack how you’re feeling and learn how to manage it. Knowing you’re surrounded by people who are working with you toward your success can give you a much-needed boost of affirmation and encouragement.

Gaining Lifelong Tools

Oftentimes, depression is a chronic condition7 . Developing an ability to cope with it and prevent it from recurring is an invaluable asset when struggling with this disorder. Intensive depression treatment helps you build a solid toolbox of coping skills you can reach into again and again, each time you need to, well after you leave treatment. These awareness tools may help you move through depression episodes more quickly, or experience them less intensely, if they do resurface.

Depression often feels like a merry-go-round you can’t get off. Stepping away from your familiar patterns and into a treatment-focused environment can provide a welcome break from the cycle and allow you to progress in new ways. Going to treatment pulls you out of that day-to-day slump and into a structured day built around your recovery.

Taking the Next Step

If depression has prevented you from fully living your life and you’ve exhausted other avenues, then a more intense, immersive option can be a good idea. Depression rehab isn’t punishing or harsh; you can think of it as a retreat that gives you the time and space to create change. For those struggling with depression, taking the step of seeking inpatient treatment may be necessary. Check with your healthcare provider or therapist to determine if this is the right recovery path for you.

Rising above your depression starts with reaching out for help. And finding a program that meets your needs can be the most healing experience of your life.

To learn more about available programs, see our curated list of private depression treatment centers.

  1. Depression: Practice Essentials, Background, Pathophysiology. June 2021. eMedicine, []
  2. Al-Harbi, Khalid Saad. “Treatment-Resistant Depression: Therapeutic Trends, Challenges, and Future Directions.” Patient Preference and Adherence, vol. 6, May 2012, pp. 369–88. PubMed Central, doi:10.2147/PPA.S29716. []
  3. Yoon R.S.Y., Ravindran N., Ravindran A. (2018) Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Treatment-Resistant Depression: A Clinical Perspective. In: Shivakumar K., Amanullah S. (eds) Complex Clinical Conundrums in Psychiatry. Springer, Cham. []
  4. Promoting Mental Health : Concepts, Emerging Evidence, Practice : A Report of the World Health Organization, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Collaboration with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation and the University of Melbourne. World Health Organization, 2005., []
  5. “Sour Mood Getting You down? Get Back to Nature.” Harvard Health, 1 July 2018, []
  6. Rebecca Kendall. “Treating Depression Requires a Multifaceted Approach.” UCLA, 12 Dec. 2017, []
  7. Burcusa, S. L., & Iacono, W. G. (2007). Risk for recurrence in depression. Clinical Psychology Review, 27(8), 959–985. []

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