How Long Is Inpatient Treatment for Depression?

The duration of inpatient treatment for depression varies based on individual needs, but typically ranges from a few weeks to several months in a residential setting.

Inpatient treatment for depression means staying at a facility for focused help. This care lasts from 30 to 90 days1, but the length can change. It all depends on how people respond to the help and if they have other health issues.2 The main aim of this care is to get the most painful symptoms under control. Then, it sets the stage for further healing. This is done with special medicines, talking with professionals, and other treatments.1

Looking for inpatient care because of serious or hard-to-treat depression shows courage. It’s a brave step towards better mental well-being and a happier life.

Key Takeaways

  • Inpatient treatment for depression typically lasts 30 to 90 days.
  • The average length of stay is around 36 to 64 days, with significant variations across hospitals.
  • Factors like recurrent depression, social impairment, severity, can prolong the stay.
  • Inpatient treatment aims to stabilize symptoms and initiate recovery, with continued outpatient care.
  • Seeking inpatient care is a sign of strength and can improve overall mental health.

Understanding Inpatient Treatment for Depression

Inpatient treatment for depression means you stay at a facility to get intense help. You stay there for a while.3 You get 24-hour care from a team that includes doctors, nurses, and therapists.4

What Is Inpatient Treatment for Depression?

It’s a deep way to handle bad depression. You are in a place that helps you heal.5 You’re looked after all the time and you join many therapies.

This helps you deal with your symptoms better. You learn how to get back on track.

The Goals of Inpatient Depression Treatment

Inpatient treatment wants to make you feel better right away. It also tries to figure out why you are depressed.3 Then, it helps you learn ways to stay well after you leave.

You will have many therapies and maybe medicines. You will also learn how to cope in a healthy way.4 The goal is to create a safe place for your recovery, where you can focus only on getting better.

When Is Inpatient Treatment Recommended?

If your depression is really bad, and you can’t live your daily life, they might suggest inpatient.3 This is also good for those who have tried many treatments that didn’t work.

If you are thinking about suicide or have other severe problems, this could be the right choice.5 Inpatient offers extra support for your safety and health while getting better.

Typical Duration of Inpatient Depression Treatment

Inpatient treatment for depression often takes 30 to 90 days.6 Studies show the average stay is between 36 and 64 days.2

Average Length of Stay

At Mount Carmel Behavioral Health in Columbus, Ohio, patients usually stay five to seven days.6 However, a study across 10 hospitals in Germany found wider differences. The time ranged from 36.8 days in one hospital to 64.3 in another.2

Factors Affecting Treatment Duration

Many things can affect how long someone stays for treatment.2 Sometimes, a person’s age, social background, and how bad their depression is can make a difference.2 People with worse depression often stay longer.

If the reason for treatment is urgent or if someone has tried to harm themselves before, they might not stay as long.2

Yet, the type of patients a hospital mostly sees doesn’t explain all the time differences.2 This means other factors also influence how long treatment lasts.

average length of stay for inpatient depression treatment

Treatment Approaches and Therapies

In inpatient settings, depression treatment mixes therapies and personalized interventions. These are tailored to each person’s situation.3


Psychotherapy, like CBT and IPT, is often used. It helps find and deal with the reasons behind depression.3 These methods are really good at treating depression. They teach patients healthier ways to handle life.3

Medication Management

Treatments might also include medicines with psychotherapy. Doctors often give out SSRIs and SNRIs. These help balance body chemicals to lessen depression symptoms.3 The medical team will closely watch how the medication works for each patient.3

Alternative Therapies

Along with talk and meds, inpatient care may use other methods. Things like art, behavior, and group therapy aim for a complete healing.3

A mix of these treatments, designed for each person, works best. It leads to good results in inpatient care for depression.34

Structure of an Inpatient Treatment Program

The structure of inpatient depression treatment mixes group sessions, one-on-one therapy, and managing medications.7 These treatments team up to deal with the many sides of depression. They offer complete care for those in need of support.

Group Therapy Sessions

Group therapy is key in treating depression in an inpatient setting. It allows patients to form connections with others in the same boat.7 These sessions create a safe place for sharing and learning. They often focus on learning new skills or managing emotions.

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Individual Therapy

Along with group therapy, there are private counseling sessions. Patients meet alone with a mental health expert.7 This gives them a chance to dive deep into their own struggles. They work on a plan that fits their needs exactly.

Medication Management

Getting the right medicines is also very important.7 A psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse works with patients to tailor their medicine. They keep track of how it’s going and adjust as needed. This process is vital for feeling stable and lessening symptoms.

The mix of group, individual therapy, and the right medicine is at the heart of depression treatment.7 These inpatient programs aim for a complete care approach. They address the needs of those with severe or hard-to-treat depression.

Cost and Insurance Coverage

Looking into the cost and insurance coverage of inpatient treatment for depression is key.8 This kind of mental health care can be expensive. It covers hospital stays, food, and various therapies.8 Depending on your insurance, you might have to pay a lot out of pocket. This includes copays and special service prices.

Understanding Your Insurance Benefits

9 The Affordable Care Act makes including mental health in new health plans a must.9 Most new plans help with the cost of inpatient treatment for diagnosed depression.9 But, there could be limits on how long they will pay for. Still, they can cover a big part of the cost.9 Checking with your insurance is smart. They can tell you about coverage and what you might have to pay.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

8 Places that help with mental health sometimes give free assessments or let you check insurance online.8 If you don’t have insurance, you might be able to pay over time.8 Inpatient care can be more expensive. It includes stays in mental health hospitals, whether short or long-term.

Financing Options

10 The Act says all health plans must cover mental health care as a top benefit.10 Plans from Marketplaces, individual sellers, and small job-based plans must have this too. They cover things like counseling and meds for depression.10 The Act also stops companies from kicking you out or raising prices just because of mental health needs.10 There are no more limits on the care’s cost, where previously there had been.10 This means less money from your pocket each year. The aim is to help people afford the care they need.

Supporting a Loved One During Inpatient Treatment

When someone you care about is in an inpatient treatment facility, it can be hard for you both. But, there are ways to help during their stay.11 These facilities are good at treating depression and sometimes also help with other issues.11

Being there for your loved one is vital. Try to visit them often if you can. Doing activities together, like walking or reading, can improve their mood.11 Treatment usually involves talking to a therapist alone or in a group. They use methods that are proven to work, focused on what each person needs.11

It’s also important to learn about what they’re going through. This knowledge helps you support them better.12 Knowing that recovery takes time is crucial. So is understanding the time it might take for the treatment to show results.12

Encourage them to stick to their treatment plan. You can also help with practical things, like money or chores, to lower their stress.11 Treatments may include talking to someone, staying active, eating well, and taking medicine.11

Showing patience, empathy, and kindness is key. Supporting your loved one’s recovery means a lot.11 Depression can affect anyone, and helping your loved one can be very important.11

Lifestyle Adjustments and Self-Care

Changing lifestyle habits and self-care are big helpers during your depression treatment. It’s key to keep your physical health in check by eating well, drinking enough water, and sleeping properly.3 People with chronic illnesses are more prone to depression, making physical health extra important now.13

Prioritizing Physical Health

Focusing on your body’s health is crucial while you’re getting treated for depression. Dial-in your diet, water intake, and sleep.3 Also, don’t skip exercise. A simple walk each day can be a game-changer for your mood and health.3

Practicing Mindfulness

Adding mindful activities like meditation or yoga can really help.3 These practices lower stress, decrease anxiety, and improve focus.13 Mental health is a big focus for doctors and for good reason, making self-care crucial.

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Finding Ways to Relax

But it’s not just about the physical and mindful. It’s equally important to find activities that relax you.3 Consider things like reading, art, or time in nature.3 Since those with depression have a higher smoking rate, it’s vital to choose healthy ways to destress.13

Aftercare and Continuing Treatment

Once you finish an inpatient program for depression, it’s vital to keep up with a full treatment plan for long-term recovery.14 Recovery is a continuous effort, needing both your devotion and commitment. Major depressive disorder impacts over 16.1 million adults in the U.S. and 25 million people of all ages worldwide.14 Moving from inpatient to outpatient care marks an important step towards getting mentally well.

Outpatient Therapy

Regularly attending outpatient therapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT) helps keep up the progress from inpatient care.14 It tackles any remaining symptoms and supports your reentry into daily life. Nearly 7% of Americans deal with major depressive disorder each year, highlighting the ongoing support’s vital role.14

Medication Management

Managing your medication properly is key to sustaining the gains from inpatient treatment.14 You might have to keep using prescribed antidepressants or other drugs. Sometimes, you’ll need to change your dosage. It’s important to meet with your psychiatrist or primary care doctor regularly. They’ll ensure your medications are still the best fit for you.

Lifestyle Changes

Adding healthy habits to your life can help after leaving an inpatient program.14 This involves focusing on your physical well-being with regular exercise, balanced meals, and good sleep habits. It’s also about using methods like mindfulness and meditation to lower stress. More than half of those with depression don’t get help, which shows how vital self-care is.14

By following a thorough aftercare strategy, which includes therapy, managing medications, and making lifestyle improvements, you can continue your improvement. This paves the way for ongoing mental health and happiness after your inpatient experience.

how long is inpatient treatment for depression

Inpatient treatment for depression lasts from 30 to 90 days, typically. The average stay is between 36 and 64 days.2Yet, the time can change a lot, based on many things. These include how severe the depression is. Also, it depends on how a person responds to treatment and if there are other issues like substance abuse. Plus, it can vary based on what their insurance will pay for.

Around one in 15 adults in the U.S. faces major depression.12 It takes four to six weeks for antidepressants to start working.12The Dana Point Residential Mental Health facility in California has a special program for inpatient treatment. It’s focused on what each person needs.12They have daily activities and group therapy to help individuals for the long term. Plus, they offer holistic care. It’s all to help people get better and move on from depression.12

The length of stay may become longer due to things like recurrent depression or trouble with social skills.2But if someone needs sudden help because of a crisis or has tried to harm themselves before, this might shorten their stay.2While each patient’s situation may vary, this doesn’t explain most of the differences in how long they stay in the hospital.2

Involuntary Hospitalization

People with depression might get put in the hospital without wanting to, if they might hurt themselves, others, or if they can’t take care of themselves.15 Being forcibly hospitalized has to follow rules and the hospital’s own policies.

Legal Considerations

If someone is thought to be an immediate threat or can’t take care of themselves, they might get taken to the hospital.15 Each state has its own rules for this, like what kind of help is available and if the person could still be a danger.15

Hospital Restrictions

When it’s an emergency, the person might stay for a few days without their choice. This can differ, but usually, it’s between three to five days.15 During this time, the doctors will watch and treat them a little to figure out what’s going on. The length of this watch can go from two days to six months, depending on where it happens.15

If the doctors want to keep the person longer, they need special permission. Normally, this can last up to six months. But, after some time, they might get to stay longer based on another review.15 If a person clearly needs more help, the hospital can hold a hearing about their care. This helps make sure it’s the right decision to keep them there against their will.15

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Hospitalization Quality and Benchmarking

Studies show that inpatient depression care quality varies between hospitals.2 By looking at patient outcomes, how long they stay, and satisfaction, we can compare programs. This helps us see who’s doing a good job.

Quality Indicators

It’s key to measure how well inpatient depression programs work. Indicators might include how much patients improve, their quality of life changes, and how happy they are with the care.16 This info shows us the care’s real quality.

Length of Stay Variations

Inpatient stays for depression differ a lot between centers.2 On average, stays can be under 9 days or stretch to over 64 days. The exact time depends on the hospital and the people they treat.216

Factors Influencing Length of Stay

Many things affect how long someone stays for inpatient care.217 For example, having a long history of depression or not being able to socialize can make stays longer.2 On the other hand, coming in during a crisis or having had suicidal thoughts before might shorten the stay.2


Inpatient treatment is key for people with major depression that’s hard to treat. How long someone stays in inpatient care can differ a lot, from 30 to 90 days, but it usually falls between 36 and 64 days.18

What works for one person in depression treatment might not work for another. But, studies show that using talk therapy, medicine, and other treatments together can help a lot. This mix is really good at making the hard symptoms better and starting off a way to get well.1819

Choosing inpatient treatment means working closely with doctors and making sure the plan fits your needs and wallet. When you take good care of yourself and keep up with a plan after leaving the hospital, you help yourself stay better for the long run.20


What is inpatient treatment for depression?

Inpatient treatment for depression means staying at a facility for focused care. This is for those battling depression in a severe way.

How long does inpatient treatment for depression typically last?

Usually, inpatient depression treatment lasts between 30 to 90 days. On average, people stay for 36 to 64 days to recover.

What factors affect the duration of inpatient depression treatment?

The time spent in treatment varies based on many factors. These include how severe the depression is and how well the person responds to treatment. Other factors are if there are other mental health issues and insurance needs.

What types of therapies are used in inpatient depression treatment?

Treatments can include different kinds of therapies like CBT and medication use. They also have other therapies to help patients.

How is an inpatient depression treatment program structured?

The program usually has group and individual therapy, along with managing medications. This balanced approach aids in recovery.

How is inpatient depression treatment covered by insurance?

Most insurances include coverage for inpatient depression care. But details like length of coverage and costs may differ. Always know your insurance to plan for expenses.

How can I support a loved one during inpatient depression treatment?

You can help by visiting them, joining in therapy, and supporting their recovery. Showing you care is important for their progress.

What lifestyle adjustments and self-care practices are important during inpatient depression treatment?

Focusing on physical health, mindfulness, and finding ways to relax are key. These lifestyle changes aid in the recovery journey.

What happens after inpatient depression treatment?

Ongoing treatment is vital post-inpatient care. This can include ongoing therapy and lifestyle adjustments. It’s important for sustained well-being.

What is involuntary hospitalization for depression?

Sometimes, severe cases may lead to hospitalization without personal consent. Legal and hospital rules must be followed in such cases.

How does the quality of inpatient depression treatment vary?

Not all facilities offer the same standard of care for inpatient depression. Indicators like outcomes and patient satisfaction help compare their performance.

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