Does Intensive Outpatient Treatment Work for Depression?

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Life has its peaks and troughs. It’s perfectly normal to feel down at times, particularly when faced with commonplace stressors, whether work-related, personal, or financial.

Normally, when someone is feeling depressed due to the emotions triggered by stressful situations, this feeling subsides when things improve or the event finishes.

For millions of people, though, feelings of depression or anxiety can be ongoing. Also, when someone is suffering from clinical depression – also known as major depressive disorder – or anxiety disorder, this frequently brings about symptoms that are not caused by external events.

If the symptoms of depression or anxiety persist and start to interfere with life at home, work, or school, this is more than likely anxiety or mood disorder in need of treatment. 

How many people are we talking about, then, and what forms of treatment does depression respond to best?

Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

The number of people suffering from depression is rising, with over 17 million Americans experiencing at least one major depressive episode in any given year. The mental health epidemic ravages Americans every year with Depression, Anxiety, and much more.

As the after-effects of the global pandemic continue to unfold, more and more people are being diagnosed with depression.

The same is true of anxiety, with spiraling numbers of prescriptions for benzodiazepines being written. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States. 40 million adults are affected each year.

Now, while both depression and anxiety disorder are eminently treatable, only around one-third of those requiring help end up engaging with anxiety or depression treatment. Individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy become popular methods of treatment whilst this mental health epidemic rages on.

Those suffering from depression and a variety of other mood disorders usually respond most favorably to a combination of medication (antidepressants) and psychotherapy (CBT and DBT). Those suffering from anxiety will also find behavioral therapies like CBT useful, as well as mindfulness.

Mainly, treatment for either depression or anxiety is delivered as an outpatient treatment program. You’ll see a therapist either once or twice a week for sessions of thirty minutes to one hour. Sessions usually continue for a few months, but therapy can last much longer in the case of severe disorders.

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are a pretty new concept in psychotherapy, and this form of structured outpatient treatment can be highly effective for treating both depression and anxiety.

Treatment for Depression: What to Expect

Before undertaking any form of treatment for depression, you’ll need a thorough assessment from a mental healthcare specialist. Expect to answer questions about your family and medical history as well as any substance abuse issues. Be honest here, as the correct diagnosis is key when you have co-occurring addiction and mental health conditions. You can also expect to answer questions about relevant environmental factors feeding your depression. 

Further to this initial assessment, the intensity of your symptoms will be diagnosed as:

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe

In most cases, a combination of medication and therapy works effectively for treating most instances of major depressive disorder.

And here’s the good news: of those who seek treatment for depression, 80 to 90% respond to treatment. All that’s required is the right treatment plan, typically one incorporating medication…

Antidepressants for Depression

Antidepressants come in many types but they all perform the same basic role: these medications target the brain chemistry elements leading to depression. This is achieved by the medications interacting with and regulating various neurotransmitters in your brain.

The right antidepressants can improve your mood and sleep patterns. They can also help you to regain your appetite and focus.

When starting a course of antidepressants, the medication doesn’t kick in right away. It might takes weeks, sometimes a couple of months, before you feel the full effects. If you don’t notice a positive outcome after a few weeks, speak with your healthcare provider. Often, you need to try several antidepressants before settling on one that works for you.

Psychotherapy for Depression

Various forms of psychotherapy can be applied to treating depressive disorders.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are evidence-based talk therapies that help you to learn superior coping mechanism and hone your problem-solving skills while also exploring how to change patterns of poor behaviors.

When you engage with psychotherapy for depression, you can expect to achieve the following:

  • Formulate clear recovery goals and work toward achieving these
  • Gain a better understanding of your mental illness
  • Learn to better cope with life’s stressors
  • Improve your interpersonal relationships
  • Stop destructive habits and behaviors from controlling your life
  • Start to overcome fears and limiting beliefs
  • Further understanding past traumatic experiences
  • Explore the relationship between depression and substance abuse
  • Create a healthy routine and lifestyle
  • Develop a plan for coping with triggering situations

What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

With intensive outpatient treatment, you’ll benefit from focused therapy delivered in a structured format.

The structure is personalized to suit your circumstances. You might engage with intensive treatment for 3 hours every weekday over the course of a month. Others may attend treatment sessions less frequently but over a longer duration.

You’ll engage with the same forms of psychotherapy and medication-assisted treatment available at residential treatment centers. The difference with an IOP is that you’ll go home each night rather than remaining at the treatment center. This is not only much more flexible, but also much more affordable. Beyond this, in most cases of depression, inpatient treatment is unnecessary.

Intensive Outpatient Program at Renaissance Recovery

If you are suffering from depression as well as alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder, we offer dual diagnosis treatment programs at Renaissance Recovery to help you attack both issues head-on.

For anyone struggling with the idea of committing to residential treatment, we have intensive outpatient programs ideal for treating depression as well as addiction to drink or drugs.

Get things started with a thorough assessment by calling the friendly Renaissance team at 866-330-9449.

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Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country