How Long Is Inpatient Treatment for Depression?

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No one’s mental health journey is linear. Coping with depression requires perseverance, consistency and support.

Depression (or major depressive disorder) is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. It is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

While individuals with mild symptoms are sometimes able to heal without formal treatment, anyone experiencing symptoms of depression ought to consider seeking professional help.

When depression symptoms interfere with daily life and cannot be adequately addressed via outpatient care methods, inpatient treatment may be appropriate. The duration of inpatient depression treatment varies, but is typically somewhere between three and 14 days.

Keep reading to learn about the factors that can influence your length of stay in an inpatient treatment facility and actions to consider after leaving inpatient treatment for depression.

Why you should seek inpatient treatment for depression

Inpatient treatment refers to mental health care provided in a hospital setting or other facility where individuals with severe mental health disorder symptoms or those who are experiencing a mental health crisis can receive 24/7 monitoring and medical stabilization.a stay in a psychiatric hospital or the psych unit of a hospital. 

Depression is a common mental health disorder that may be treated in an inpatient treatment facility because severe major depressive symptoms can put yourself or others in danger. Inpatient treatment for depression should be considered if:

  • You’re experiencing suicidal ideation or self-harming.
  • You’re unable to take care of yourself due to your depression.
  • You have unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance use.

The goal of inpatient treatment for depression is to reduce your symptoms and help you develop the skills you need to manage them going forward. It usually involves a combination of therapy sessions and medication management. 

What factors into how long you’re in inpatient treatment for depression

The time frame of an inpatient facility stay can differ from person to person. It can last a few days, or your clinicians could believe that it’s in your best interest to continue inpatient treatment for several weeks.

Factors that can influence your length of your stay in an inpatient depression treatment program include:

  • The severity of your symptoms
  • Your goals for treatment
  • The speed of your progress
  • If you have co-occurring conditions

Typically, inpatient care teams will begin the discharge process once they observe a significant reduction in depression symptoms.

The next steps to take following inpatient treatment for depression


Regardless of the duration of your inpatient treatment for depression, taking the appropriate steps afterward can support your ongoing mental health journey and help you reach your long-term goals. 


After completing inpatient treatment, your care team may recommend that you step down to a lower level of care. This allows for a smoother transition back to your daily life, while providing the opportunity to hone depression coping skills in a less structured environment. Inpatient treatment is the highest level of care for mental health distress, followed by Residential Treatment and a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP).

Since many people who are admitted into inpatient treatment have severe depression that they can’t manage on their own, or they’re a danger to themselves, it’s important that ample structure and care is still provided in their next step.

Residential Treatment refers to a long-term stay in a home-like facility that allows you to develop the skills and coping mechanisms you need to reduce depression. It provides a safe and judgment-free zone to explore your mental health through therapy sessions in varying dynamics. It can also include movement opportunities and outings.

Partial Hospitalization Programs involve treatment that offers structured programming for support without overnight supervision. PHP allows you to receive the treatment you need while gaining independence. It allows you to incorporate your newly learned skills immediately into your day-to-day lifestyle.

At Lightfully, both RTC and PHP last approximately 30 days. While RTC provides 24/7 behavioral care, our PHP can range from five to seven days of structured schedules.

Lightfully Behavioral Health can help you following inpatient treatment 

Completing any treatment program for depression represents a huge, brave step on your mental health journey. If you need support with treatment planning after leaving an inpatient program, or have questions about other levels of care, Lightfully is here for you. 

The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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