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Rehab for Depression

August 31, 2022
Reviewed by: Rajnandini Rathod

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems in the world. It is estimated that one in five people suffer from depression at some point in their lives.  It causes problems in the person’s functioning, affecting their personal, social and professional life. Depression is also a major risk factor for suicide. According to WHO, about 700,000 people die to suicide each year.

The term depression is used very loosely in our day-to-day conversations. We all, as human beings, experience low moods from time to time while facing challenges in our lives. During a depressive episode, a person experiences a significant low mood for a prolonged period of time along with a loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. Other symptoms like low concentration, excessive guilt, changes in sleep and appetite, suicidal ideation and a general lack of energy might also be present.

Depression is considered a bio-psycho-social disorder. Stressful life experiences can trigger depression in people who are vulnerable. Depressive episodes might often be repetitive. They are categorised into mild, moderate and severe depending on the severity. Psychotherapy, specifically CBT, is the most popular treatment method for depression. Depending on the degree of depression, antidepressants might also be prescribed. 

However, only about 60-70% of the people taking antidepressant treatment show improvement in their symptoms. The people who do not respond to this typical treatment are said to have treatment-resistant depression. A combination of different treatment modalities like psychotherapy, medication, holistic therapies and somatic therapies works better for this kind of depression. This kind of personalised treatment can be availed at a rehab centre. 

When to choose a rehab for depression?

Usually, when people start noticing symptoms of depression, they’d normally see a therapist or a psychiatrist. Therapy and antidepressants are usually the first methods seek. This helps a lot of people. But depression is more complex than just two weeks of symptoms. Depression is episodic, and people might experience multiple episodes in their lifetime, of varying degrees. 

In some cases, people might not respond to these typical methods like in the case of treatment-resistant depression. People with severe depression might also need a higher level of in-patient care. In cases like these, when the episodes are repetitive, resistant to a single form of treatment or need a higher degree of treatment, rehab is a good option. 

Most rehabilitation centres provide tailor-made treatment programs based on your needs. This allows you to experiment with various different therapies and choose what best suits you. They also often have a team of doctors, therapists, nutritionists and experts who can provide you with holistic treatment. Along with round-the-clock care, you can also take part in group therapies and other recreational activities. 

If you are experiencing any of these signs, you can consider rehab an option for treatment:

  • Alcohol or drugs to cope: Symptoms of depression can make it difficult for you to function normally. That might add to the stress and aggravate your symptoms. People might often turn to alcohol or other substance to obtain temporary relief or escape from this pain. But it eventually pulls you in a downward spiral. This also puts people at risk of addiction. Rehab is best equipped to treat co-occurring disorders like this.
  • Suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviours: Suicidal thoughts are common symptoms of moderate to severe depression. To be safe, clinicians recommend staying at an in-patient facility if there is suicidal ideation or any signs of self-harm. Emergency care might be required in these cases. 
  • Adverse effect on family or other relationships: Depression can make you feel disinterested in relationships or even too tired to engage with people. This can affect your close relationships. This might be a frustrating experience for your close ones, which might induce more guilt in you. If you feel that the distance in your relationships is only increasing, it might be a good time to consider residential treatment. Most rehabs also provide family therapy, which can help you mend these relationships. 
  • Ability to function: Loss of concentration and interest are two of the most common symptoms of depression. When these are taken away, it becomes hard to function in any aspect of life. This may severely impact your professional and social life. If you find it difficult to get work done or even get to work, residential care can help you rehabilitate back into these environments. This might be difficult to do only through medications or counselling alone. 

How can rehab help you with depression?

While most other treatment models with have a symptomatic approach, rehabs have a holistic approach. The focus is not on just reducing the symptoms but rather on making life what it was or better. Depression affects almost every aspect of an individual’s life. It can be difficult to get back to their normal level of functioning. But rehab equips you with skills you can use for a lifetime. 

They’re a team of professionals working together. Since depression is a biopsychosocial disorder, it is important to address all those aspects. Depression affects your appetite and sleep. These can be monitored better at a residential facility. You are likely to have several one-on-one sessions with a psychologist, group therapy sessions, physical therapy sessions and yoga and meditation. The psychologist might help you address deep traumas and identify triggers. 

Depending on the rehab you choose, you are likely to have the following benefits when seeking treatment for depression:

Personalised treatment plan: A team of people work with you to curate a plan that works just for you. Everyone experiences depression a little different. You have your unique set of characteristics, and one plan might not fit everyone. This also gives you some autonomy to experiment and pave your own path to recovery. 

Safe and enriching environment: Your sole focus in rehab will be your recovery. A routine will be created for you keeping this in mind. You will also have staff available all the time in case of any emergencies. You will be away from your usual stressors and triggers. 

Holistic approach: At rehab, your focus will not only be on getting rid of the symptoms. As is usually the case in the medical model. Mental health professionals here will guide you to make your life more enriching and fulfilling. This will be done by identifying your values and bringing back the zest you once had. 

Skills for life: The skills you learn at rehab will help you cope with any similar problems you might face in the future. Making the right choice for yourself by avoiding harmful substances and instead turning to healthy coping mechanisms. 

Depression is a very common and serious mental health disorder. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, remember that it is highly treatable. The sooner you seek treatment, the easier the process is for you. You can browse our curated list of rehab centres for depression here.


Al-Harbi K. S. (2012). Treatment-resistant depression: therapeutic trends, challenges, and future directions. Patient preference and adherence, 6, 369–388.

Beck, A. T., & Alford, B. A. (2009). Depression: Causes and treatment. University of Pennsylvania Press. 

Depression. (2021, September 13). World Health Organisation. 

Greenfield, B. L., Venner, K. L., Kelly, J. F., Slaymaker, V., & Bryan, A. D. (2012). The impact of depression on abstinence self-efficacy and substance use outcomes among emerging adults in residential treatment. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 26(2), 246.