If you are considering entering a treatment program for depression, you should first take the time to consider the criteria for the right type of program. Obviously, once the decision to seek treatment is made, the next step is usually to survey a list of programs offered by your company or personal insurance plan. For many patients, the process stops here as they are overwhelmed by uncertainty, lack of information and the sheer number of programs to consider as possible options. Given the cost, the time and, above all, the emotional and mental stakes, having a loose rubric of things to consider when selecting between depression treatment programs is always helpful.
Here are five questions to ask a prospective depression treatment center in order to make a confident and informed decision for your recovery.
1. What is the primary focus of the program?
Usually, insurance companies provide a long list of eligible or participating programs in their network but, typically, the directory listings from insurance companies are extremely broad and produce large lists. Use the internet or call the program directly to ask whether their clinical emphasis or focus is exclusively on the treatment of depression. Many programs offer treatment for depression in conjunction with a whole host of other mental health problems, but for those specifically seeking treatment for depression, finding a program with a matching emphasis and focus is critical.
Not only are these specific programs exclusively tailored towards those with depression but prospective clients generally feel more comfortable talking to program staff members who understand the difficulties of choosing a focused program. Generally speaking, it is essential to know whether a given program caters specifically to a type of illness rather than a broad category of mental health issues.
2. What is the type and length of treatment?
Depression programs offered by insurance companies or advertised online vary drastically in terms of their typical length of stay and types of programs. Programs can range from hospitalization to inpatient residential to outpatient programs lasting only a few hours a night. By asking upfront and knowing the type and length of treatment you desire and can afford, you can bypass a large number of programs from a potential list and have more time to further investigate ones that may match your length of stay and type of program requirements.
3. What type of depression does the program treat?
Along with asking whether a specific program deals exclusively with depression-related cases, individuals should also ask whether the program currently or historically has success in dealing with your specific type of depression, as well as the circumstances and context surrounding your history with depression. In this sense, you should be comfortable providing detailed or specific information on your past diagnoses, while also doing your best to describe your current depressive symptoms as best as possible. Then, in conjunction with the admissions staff at a given program, only you can determine whether a given program is truly capable of addressing your depression treatment needs. If it is not, call the program back, explain your situation and, more often than not, the admissions staff almost always will provide a handful of professional references to other programs that may better suit your individual treatment needs.
4. What is the treatment approach?
There is no universal or standard approach in the medical community in dealing with or treating depression. Generally, one of several therapeutic approaches is utilized over another in conjunction with psychiatric medication. If you are at the point of seeking treatment for depression, you likely have already experienced different treatment approaches under the care of a psychologist or psychiatrist. Take a few minutes to research psychological therapeutic approaches, learn the ones that you have previously tried and evaluate those options that have been left unexplored. When calling a potential treatment program, ask them to define and explain their therapeutic approach as well as whether their program relies on psychological medication.
5. What happens after the treatment program ends?
Many of the best treatment programs provide graduated care to their clients, meaning that the patient initially undergoes hospitalization and medical evaluation followed by increasingly diminished levels of program intensity. However, the best programs are those that provide options to patients to continue and build upon their recovery with aftercare programs. See whether the programs in your prospective list offer aftercare treatment plans for patients and learn about the typical process for levels of care during your stay with the actual program.