When to Seek In-Patient Treatment for Depression: Tips for Adult Children of Depressed Parents

It can be difficult to know when your parent’s depression becomes severe enough to need in-patient treatment. But knowing what to expect from this kind of dedicated recovery journey can help you to put their needs into perspective. Along the way you can keep your own needs in perspective even as you support your parent through a powerful path of healing.

You’re in a position to have witnessed a range of your parent’s moods, attitudes, and general health up close over time. While it is possible to deny and ignore real problems, such as depression, your perspective is such that you can see better than almost anyone else when they are truly unwell and unhappy. Depression is a state that most of us are familiar with in relation to distressing or disappointing life events, but when it persists and becomes someone’s default mental state, it can seriously disrupt everyday life, responsibilities, and relationships. Major depressive disorder or clinical depression is a chronic state of sadness, low energy, and perhaps anger, guilt, and frustration that doesn’t always sync with the present circumstances of life. This low mood persists regardless of what is going on around them. If you perceive that your parent is suffering in a depressive state, it may be to take a life-changing break for dedicated treatment. And they may not be able to find the motivation and take action of their own accord.

In-patient care for depression is a temporary measure that supports an individual’s multifaceted needs while they can return to a more stable state of mental health and continue with on-going therapeutic support in long-term recovery. Contrary to common perceptions and assumptions, needing more extensive treatment for depression is not a sign that something is wrong with your parent or that they are crazy. We rarely make the most of the exceptional mental health services available to us as a society in general; in the case of more severe depression, knowing when to seek in-patient treatment can mean a much quicker and more successful path to recovery.

Recognizing the Signs When It's Time to Seek In-Patient Treatment for Depression


Depression is a mental health disorder that responds to long-term treatment with compassionate psychotherapy and lifestyle support, as well as antidepressant medications. Over the long term, treatment is typically in an outpatient setting. Clients regularly visit therapists, psychiatrists, and physicians to maintain their treatment care plans and adjust them as needed over time. But when your parent’s condition becomes severe, they may need more intensive and comprehensive support to get their recovery back on track.

How do you know when it’s time to seek in-patient treatment for depression? Every person’s journey with depression is unique, but there are some significant signs and symptoms that indicate the need for advanced treatment. Not all of these conditions need be present; even one of these complications can mean your parent is at risk of further decline.

  • They are abusing substances—often as a means of self-medicating to cope with underlying pain or trauma
  • They are engaging in other addictive behaviors, such as compulsive Internet use, gaming, gambling, sex, shopping, or others
  • Their ability to function in life, career, and relationships is suffering
  • They are dealing with a co-occurring mental health disorder
  • They need to transition to a new medication during an especially difficult time with their disorder
  • They experience treatment-resistant depression that calls for closer care management and more diverse treatment options
  • They are at risk of hurting themselves or someone else
  • They are experiencing thoughts of or attempts at suicide

When consumed by depressive symptoms, it may be difficult for your parent to find the motivation to do much of anything, let along stay on course with a critical treatment care plan. In an in-patient treatment setting, they will have the complete and compassionate support of clinicians, therapists, peers, family, and from the holistic and experiential therapies also wrapped into the recovery process. When their depression reaches a critical level, a residential treatment center could make all the difference in their ability to overcome the barriers and get back to the life that awaits.

Begin Your Recovery Journey.

877-727-4343

What You and Your Parent Can Expect from Depression Treatment Centers


The best residential treatment centers for depressive disorders may not be quite what you and your parent expect. These private, luxurious environments are peaceful and offer a wide range of depression treatment options. The idea is that many of the stressors and triggers that contribute to depression in everyday life are not present here, so the focus can be on recovery. It is a great opportunity for your parent to reach the underlying issues that contribute to depression and perhaps substance use, other compulsive behaviors, and other co-occurring disorders.

With depression, often there is a lot under the surface that goes unexpressed—perhaps for a very long time. That pain remains as an unhealed wound, trying to express itself in distressing ways. But a comprehensive residential treatment center is a place where clients can process complex wounds and trauma because they have well-rounded and exhaustive support from knowledgeable staff dedicated to your parent’s personal recovery journey.

This is a place for professional, reliable diagnosis and dual-diagnosis treatment in the case of co-occurring disorders. The wide range of available treatment options includes medication management, various psychotherapeutic modalities, holistic therapies, and comprehensive lifestyle support. In-patient depression treatment centers also incorporate family programming, so your parent has a structured way of integrating their most important relationships and support systems along the course of treatment. During their residential recovery journey, they will not be isolated, but neither will they be crowded or overburdened. They can make progress at their own pace with the cooperation and coordination of a complete medical and psychological care team.

Your Role in Your Parent's Treatment and Recovery from Depression


As you support your parent in their recovery from depression, your own health and well-being are just as important. Don’t lose sight of your own needs. In fact, you may find that you also need additional support and self-care during this challenging time as your parent journeys through a more severe phase of their depression.

Here are some supportive ideas to consider as you navigate this challenging time:

  • You can benefit enormously from connecting with an individual therapist of your own, and they can guide you toward maintaining positive lifestyle habits in the midst of the stress.
  • Explore holistic therapies and relaxation techniques—just like your parent might be practicing in treatment—such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, music therapy, massage, acupuncture, and physical fitness.
  • Participate in the family program woven into your parent’s treatment. This will be an opportunity to heal family dynamics, establish critical boundaries and expectations, and develop effective coping strategies for the future.
  • Seek out a support group where you can share your challenges and your family’s progress with others who are navigating similar circumstances.
  • Encourage open and honest communication with your parent before, during, and after treatment. Remind them that even though they may feel as if they are alone they never really are. Be willing to listen—even when their expression is painful—and share your perspective on the possibilities for healing and long-term recovery.
  • Reach out for help from family and friends to support you in daily tasks while you dedicate support for your parent. You don’t need to struggle through this journey alone either.

Although depression perpetuates feelings of hopelessness, there is always hope for recovery. Even when it’s hard to find, know that you can find it in a treatment center. Your next step is simply to reach out and reconnect with that hope, so you can hold the light up for your parent and help them find the way again.

Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive treatment for mental health disorders as well as process addictions and phase of life issues. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles and San Diego-based programs and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to healing.