Exploring Depression Treatment Options in Los Angeles

When weekly therapy isn’t enough to keep your depression at bay, it may be time for more intensive treatment. But in a place like Los Angeles, which has so many mental health treatment options, how do you choose? By understanding the important differences between outpatient programsinpatient hospitalization, and residential treatment programs, you can select the right depression treatment program for you and take the next step in your healing journey.

Los Angeles is a city of possibility. Millions of people from around the world have come to this storied seaside city to fulfill their dreams, to escape, to reinvent themselves. Driving through the city in the smog-filtered sunset beneath swaying palm trees, on those nights when Los Angeles feels like the place mythologized by Nathaneal West, John Fante, and Joan Didion, it is easy to believe such things are possible.

But when you’re suffering from depression, few things are easy and many possibilities no longer seem within reach. And a lot of people in Los Angeles are depressed. Five years ago, 14% of people in LA County “said they had at some point been diagnosed with depressive disorder,” up from 9% in 1999. For many, outpatient therapy and the care of a good psychiatrist are enough to resolve these conditions. But if you have not found relief from your symptoms through such care, it may be time to look to other resources.

One of the advantages of living in a city like LA is that it has a well-developed network of mental health supports, cutting-edge research facilities, and some of the brightest minds in the field. In the midst of depression, however, sorting through the myriad programs available to you can be overwhelming. This guide aims to help you better understand your options for depression treatment in Los Angeles and empower you to make the best choice for your unique situation.

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Outpatient Treatment Programs


Outpatient treatment programs, also known as day programs, provide structured care while allowing you to live at home. The two most common types of day programs are partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). Both of these offer intensive treatment on a short-term basis for people who need more care than is possible via weekly therapy, but do not require the constant monitoring afforded by an inpatient or residential environment.

PHPs and IOPs typically provide a combination of individual psychotherapy and group therapy along with psychiatric oversight to manage pharmacological treatment. While deep psychological inquiry may indeed be part of some outpatient programs, the primary focus tends to be practical intervention. As Dr. Kristina Randle explains, “The goal of many partial hospital programs is the development of skills that help clients better manage their lives and their symptoms.”

Outpatient treatment programs can be ideal for some people struggling with depression, and are often particularly attractive to those who need to balance treatment with other responsibilities like work or childcare. However, many people need more oversight and structure than such programs can provide, and the symptoms of depression may compromise your ability to reliably attend programming. Additionally, some find that trying to keep on top of everyday responsibilities while participating in an intensive depression treatment program adds to their stress and diminishes their ability to fully engage in the healing process. This can be particularly hard in LA, where adding one more destination to your already-full commuting schedule can be too much; between home in the Pacific Palisades, the kids’ school in Brentwood, and work in Burbank, you’re stretched thin enough as it is. If you believe this could be the case for you, inpatient or residential treatment may present better options.

Inpatient Hospitalization


There is a virtually endless variety of inpatient programs in both general and psychiatric hospital settings, from short-term emergency treatment of acute symptoms to long-term stays for those who need full-time nursing care. From Resnick at UCLA to Gateways in Echo Park, there is no shortage of hospitalization options in Los Angeles. Because each program has its own unique mix of treatment approach, practices, and resources, it can be difficult to make generalizations about what inpatient hospitalization looks like; each program must be evaluated on its own merits.

Typically, however, hospital-based programs focus primarily on acute distress and immediate containment rather than holistic, comprehensive care. As Glick, Sharfstein, and Schwartz point out, “Driven by financial pressures, the sole focus of psychiatric inpatient treatment has become safety and crisis stabilization.” As such, most hospital stays last for 30 days or less, with the patient population tending to skew toward severe, low-functioning cases of psychiatric disturbance, and a significant proportion of that population has usually been admitted involuntarily.

While these programs serve a much-needed purpose, they may not be appropriate for all those seeking intensive depression treatment in a residential setting, particularly those with high functioning depression and whose conditions are chronic rather than acute. Furthermore, many people wish to avoid hospital-based treatment for a variety of personal reasons, including a desire for individualized attention and a more calm and comfortable healing environment than hospitals can provide. For those with careers in the entertainment industry or other high-profile professions, privacy may also be of paramount concern.

If you are considering inpatient hospitalization, be sure to research the particular program you are interested in thoroughly to ensure it will meet your needs and allow you to attain your goals in a milieu conducive to recovery.

Residential Treatment Programs


Residential treatment programs offer an alternative to inpatient hospitalization in which you can participate in a full curriculum of therapies within a home-like environment, removed from the stresses of everyday life. Clients are admitted to these programs on a voluntary basis, ensuring that each person is there because they want to engage in the work of recovery, fostering a sense of common purpose and community. As such, many people find that residential treatment programs provide the best place to begin their healing journeys.

A high-quality residential treatment program will begin your treatment with an in-depth psychological assessment to gain diagnostic clarity and develop a full picture of your needs. This information is then used to craft a personalized treatment plan designed for your individual situation. The purpose of this plan is not simply to contain acute distress, but to create a strong foundation for self-growth and ongoing wellness. As such, the length of treatment is determined by your unique needs, not arbitrary time limits. Through a tailored combination of individual psychotherapy, therapy groups, and holistic therapies, you gain the insight and skills you need to more fully understand the roots of your depression and remove internal obstacles to healing. With the guidance of expert clinicians and compassionate peers, you can learn how to make real, lasting emotional and behavioral changes to move beyond depression and toward a richer, more fulfilling future.

While the quality of clinical care is paramount in residential treatment, these programs also strive to make every aspect of the treatment experience as comfortable, relaxing, and healing as possible. From private accommodation options to private chefs, full gym facilities to some of the most beautiful surroundings in Southern California, you can enjoy nourishment of mind, body, and spirit in an intimate and peaceful environment.

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Finding the Right Depression Treatment in Los Angeles


At Bridges to Recovery, we are always available to provide guidance to people who are ready to take the next steps in their healing journey. As a Los Angeles-based treatment program, we have the clinical expertise and local knowledge to help you identify your needs and connect with the treatment options that make sense for you in an environment that makes you feel comfortable. Even if Bridges is not the right fit for you, we make every effort to ensure you get the help you need to find lasting freedom from the pain of depression and create a more joyful life.

Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive residential treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance abuse and eating disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles-based program and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.  

Image Source: Unsplash user Henning Witzel