Why seek treatment for depression and anxiety? And why would anyone seek in-patient treatment? Let’s take these questions one at a time.
Why seek treatment at all?
This is easy to answer for severe depression that is keeping you out of work, or completely disabling your ability to deal with your day-to-day life. But what if you’re “doing okay” with going to work (most days), keeping the house (reasonably) clean, getting your bills paid (almost on time) etc. What’s the problem?
“I can cope,” you may say. “I’m tough. I can ride it out. I don’t expect life to be happy all the time.”
What depression does to you and your loved ones
Fair enough. But consider some of the things that depression does to you and your loved ones before you get too comfortable with that rain cloud following you:
- It gives your kids a message you probably don’t want to send.
Kids have a right to dream about the future, and to dream big. “I want to be a firefighter,” one may say, or even, “I want to be president.” Ever hear a kid say, “I want to be depressed when I grow up, just like dad?”
Kids can sense our underlying depression, our lack of joy in life, and it can put a damper on their happiness as well. Parental depression says, loud and clear: “Don’t be too quick to grow up. Being a grown-up is awful.” Is that really what you want them to believe? So if you need a good reason to seek treatment for depression: Do it for your kids.
- Your spouse may feel abandoned.
We fall in love partly because we love how we feel being with the other person. When we are depressed, we’re not much fun, and we can even give the other person the impression that we don’t care about them anymore. If your depression leads you to drop the ball on your share of the home front duties, your partner may have to pick up the slack. This can lead to anger and feelings of being all alone in the marriage. So do it for your spouse.
- Do it for your country – or your planet.
Researchers estimate that depression causes 490 million disability days from work each year in the U.S., accounting for 23 billion2 lost workdays each year, resulting in an economic toll of over $100 billion3 annually (pre-pandemic figures). Particularly draining is the cost of employees showing up to work and just going through the motions.
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 million people are afflicted with depression each year. That’s a lot of people who aren’t giving their best. Look around. Does this look like a world that doesn’t need “all hands on board?”
- Do it for yourself.
Most of the clichés are true. That’s how they got to be clichés. You only get so many trips around the sun. Live each day as if it’s going to be your last because one day it will be. Only that day dawns to which we are awake.
Life is tough. No one’s arguing that it isn’t. But it can be easier – and more fun. Putting your kids, spouse, country, and planet aside for just a minute, you are the only reason you need to go get help. What if part of the “meaning of life” is simply to enjoy it?
Okay, you may say.
But do I really need in-patient treatment for depression?
Maybe not. Only you, your loved ones, and your doctor or therapist can decide for sure. But here are some reasons it could be for you:
- It immediately gets you away from your everyday problems and any toxic environment or relationships you may be drowning in. It gives you room to breathe and get your bearings. You may be so close to your own chaos (internal and external) you can’t see it clearly anymore. With a little time and space, you may see things very differently. When you step back, or get “other eyes” on your situation, there’s often a big “Aha!” moment, or even an, “Oh ____.”
- It immediately imposes some kind of structure and routine upon your days. The idea of “no structure” can sound wonderful until you actually try to live it. Many people found that out during the pandemic. For every person who loved the new freedom to work in their pajamas, there was someone who found that they stayed in a “pajama frame of mind” all day, missing the sense of purpose their schedule used to give them. Self-employed people and stay-at-home parents are historically more prone to depression for this very reason. An in-patient treatment center gives you lines to color inside of again. Most of us need that.
- It surrounds you with a supportive, understanding community of therapists, medical professionals, and other clients. Depression can be one of the most alienating experiences anyone can have. In residential treatment you meet other people who “get it,” and they can become as powerful a part of your healing as the trained pros formally on your team.
- A new, novel setting allows for new, novel thoughts. A change of scenery can allow you to change the way you think, feel, and behave. You become much more open to learning new skills, many of which have been developed for people just like you. These can include CBT for depression, and DBT for depression. You can try on a different way of being, and see the difference it can make in your life. You get a chance to practice with people who are open to you being different from who you’ve been before.
- If you could solve this problem by yourself, right where you are, doing what you’re doing, wouldn’t it have been solved already? How many events, large and small, from the tulips popping up in your garden, to your son’s wedding, are you going to allow to be colored by the lens of depression?
Oh, and forget “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Residential treatment centers vary widely. I love talking to relieved and delighted clients who are happily surprised to arrive at The Center • A Place of HOPE, where I practice. They feel instantly charmed by its friendly relaxed vibe and colorful photographs on the wall. “I pictured this so differently,” they often say.
There’s no shortage of good information out there on depression treatment centers – websites, reviews, articles, etc. These resources can help you choose the best place for you – one where you’ll feel truly supported and welcome. So get looking. Check out our Depression Hotline page for information on seeking help.
1 Merikangas KR et al. The Impact of Comorbidity of Mental and Physical Conditions on Role Disability in the US Adult Household Population. Arch Gen Psychiatry/vol 64 (no.10), Oct 2007.
2 Greenberg P et al. The Economic Burden of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder in the United States (2005 and 2010). The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry/vol 76 (no. 2), Feb 2015.
4 World Health Organization, Media Centre, Depression Fact Sheet, Updated February 2017