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Intensive Outpatient Programs Can Help Teens With Depression

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An intensive outpatient program provides ongoing group support to help individuals recover from depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. These programs, also referred to as IOP’s, provide more structure than traditional therapy but more flexibility than in-patient programs. An IOP can significantly improve a person’s mood and ability to cope with depression. 

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What Is An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)? 

An IOP offers treatment sessions during the day or evening for 6-8 weeks while teens participate in everyday life. An IOP may offer intensive outpatient therapy alongside medication management and holistic treatments to help people navigate triggers and challenges in real-time. People often attend sessions 3-5 times a week, each three hours long.  

The importance of dealing with depression cannot be overstated. Depression can negatively impact every area of a person’s life and well-being, affecting their ability to function and perform everyday tasks. 

Feelings of hopelessness and a lack of interest in daily activities are all hallmarks of depression. Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide and physical ailments such as heart disease. Recognizing depressive symptoms in yourself or someone else can save lives and is the first step to healing. 

Goals of Intensive Outpatient Programs 

The goal of an IOP is to provide extensive ongoing support for mental health needs such as anxiety, depression, addiction/substance use, PTSD, etc. Each IOP is tailored to treat the specific symptoms and challenges a person may be facing. 

The structure for each Intensive Outpatient Program will vary depending on each participant’s unique circumstances and background. People recovering from substance use, self-harm, lack of impulse control, anxiety, depression, or PTSD will require an IOP tailored to treat them and meet their specific needs. That may include time spent in group, individual, or family therapy sessions.

The general goals of an Intensive Outpatient Program are to provide people with the skills they need to cope and eventually thrive. Those skills include increased self-awareness, recognizing unhealthy behaviors, self-regulation, stress management techniques, and practicing asking for help and support. 

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Components of Intensive Outpatient Program

Universal components of intensive outpatient programs include the following: 

Learning New Coping Skills

Relaxation and breathing techniques are commonly taught in IOP’s to help teens cope with everyday life triggers and stress. 

Problem Solving

 Becoming a problem solver when facing challenges is another critical life skill. Paralyzing anxiety and feeling overwhelmed is replaced with the ability to cope by learning how to approach problems with a step-by-step, solution-based strategies and practicing asking for help when needed. 

Keeping An Eye On Unhealthy Behavior 

Developing increased self-awareness is a critical component of a successful treatment program. Recognizing signs of unhealthy behavior or coping mechanisms can help prevent a downward spiral by getting help as soon as the symptoms appear. 

Develop A Healthy Support System 

An IOP has a significant group component in addition to individually focused therapies.  An IOP will also help participants connect with a  support system that will be there once the program ends. Support systems in the form of 12 step programs or other peer groups where people can give and seek support are crucial to maintaining optimal well-being. 

teens in IOP

Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient 

You may be curious why some people choose intensive outpatient treatment over inpatient alternatives. 

In-patient treatment is designed for people in crisis who need 24- hour support, are an active danger to themselves or others, and/or would benefit most from taking a break from their regular environment and surroundings. Inpatient programs can offer medical detox treatments and other care that may not be provided in outpatient programs, such as suicide watch and prevention. 

An outpatient program allows people to live at home and continue working or attending school while receiving intensive, structured therapy and other treatments.  An IOP is a good choice for people ready for a program that allows them to remain in the least restrictive environment while helping them manage their lives in the real world as they continue their daily activities and commitments. 

The Stages Of Intensive Outpatient Programs?

There are different stages in outpatient programs for people recovering from substance use and/or mental health needs, depending on the severity of their addiction and associated symptoms.  Each stage described below symbolizes the severity of a given addiction and the recommended treatment for each stage. 

Stage 1

In this early stage of treatment, intervention services are provided. Sometimes people suffering from an addiction or intense mental health needs will not seek help on their own, so their families or loved ones will stage an intervention or assessment with the help of a treatment center. 

Stage 2

This stage is defined by outpatient services that may or may not include intensive treatment. At each IOP level, participants continue to engage in their everyday lives while receiving treatment. 

Stage 3 

Sometimes partial hospitalization programs are necessary for improvement alongside intensive outpatient services. Some patients require this more involved level of support and mental health treatment. 

Stage 4 

This stage involves full-time residential treatment services for people suffering from addiction and associated mental health disorders.  It may be helpful for a person to receive an individualized treatment plan provided in a residential program.  Residential treatment programs tend to be 30 to 90 days and may include medication treatment, family therapy and holistic services to assist with recovery. 

Stage 5 

This is the most intensive level of care provided for people suffering from an addiction or mental health issue. This level is best suited for severely addicted individuals or those struggling with active suicidal ideations and cannot contract for safety and who need around-the-clock support as well as medical intervention. The best medical treatment gives individuals the best results and the highest chances for a successful recovery. 

Outpatient Care For Depression In Teens 

Depression may present differently in teens than it does in adults. It is, therefore, necessary to have age-appropriate outpatient treatment programs available. There are intensive outpatient program depression therapies for teenagers, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other treatments that have proven to be effective.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was developed specifically to treat suicidal individuals, such as people with Borderline Personality Disorder, but has also proven effective for people suffering from depression or other mood disorders. 

Benefits of IOP 

Some benefits of an intensive outpatient program include: 

  • A supportive but less drastic program than other treatment approaches.
  • Being able to cope with daily life better and have greater success navigating mood disorders. 
  • The freedom to continue living in familiar surroundings while receiving the support needed to heal and recover from mood disorders and mental health issues.  

 It’s Time To Control Depression 

It’s time to get support for your anxiety or depression, and an intensive outpatient program may be the answer you’ve been searching for. An IOP can help with depression and other mood disorders over time. When you are ready, reaching out for more information or assistance can be the first step to enjoying a productive, healthy, and enjoyable life.

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