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Category: Psychiatry

Psych Ward vs Mental Hospital: What’s the Difference?

While both facilities treat mental illness, there are differences between a psych ward vs. a mental hospital. Overall, the key distinction is that a psych ward is more for short-term stabilization. On the other hand, mental hospitals provide long-term care for mental illnesses.

After the inpatient services of a psych ward and mental hospital, you can still benefit from continuing treatment in an outpatient setting. North Atlanta Behavioral Health provides outpatient mental health services in Atlanta, Georgia.

What is a Psych Ward?

“Psych ward” is a shortened version of “psychiatric ward.” A psych ward is a short-term inpatient mental treatment facility. These facilities help to stabilize individuals who are involuntarily committed to get an evaluation and treatment.

A person can be involuntarily committed when they pose a danger to themselves or others due to a mental health condition. Examples include extreme agitation and violent threats by a person with psychosis or a person with depression engaged in suicidal actions or threats. Oftentimes, law enforcement is involved in some way.

The treatment goal in a psych ward is stabilization. You can also think of this as crisis management. So, once the crisis is over, the person is discharged.

What is a Mental Hospital?

A mental hospital offers long-term treatment and is usually voluntary. However, a person could be sent to a mental hospital after stabilizing in a psych ward for involuntary treatment. This could occur if the person refuses treatment and, although they are stable now, they are at a high risk of regressing to a crisis level again soon.

Mental hospitals offer inpatient treatment services that can include group processing, individual therapy, psychiatric medication, and case management. Thus, the focus is on learning to cope with mental health symptoms to prevent crises from occurring. In addition, mental hospitals might offer aftercare services, like outpatient treatment programs.

How Are Psych Wards and Mental Hospitals Similar?

Psych wards and mental hospitals are similar in the types of disorders they treat as well as many of the services offered. For instance, medications are a common component of treating mental health disorders. Group and individual therapy are also available in both programs.

Psych wards and mental hospitals are also similar because they both connect you to continuing treatment services. During a stay in a psych ward, clients usually meet with a case manager to connect them to resources to help them after they are discharged. Similarly, mental hospitals can connect you to resources like outpatient rehab and mental health housing.

Lastly, both types of mental health treatment are inpatient. This means clients live in the facility where they get their treatment.

How Do Psych Wards and Mental Hospitals Differ?

There are key differences between psych wards vs mental hospitals, however. For one thing, psych wards are generally involuntary services meant for stabilizing a crisis. Once the crisis is resolved and the person is no longer a threat to themselves or others, they are discharged.

Since psych wards focus only on stabilization, clients don’t stay very long. According to Statista, the average length of stay for all mental health disorders is 7.2 days. Thus, during a stay in a psych ward, clients don’t get the long-term care needed to recover from their mental illness.

On the other hand, mental hospitals offer long-term inpatient treatment. A person could be in a mental hospital for 30 days to several months. This level of care provides clients with the skills they need to cope with symptoms and learn more about underlying causes and triggers.

Compared to psych wards, mental hospitals are usually more homelike and less sterile. That way, clients are more comfortable throughout a long-term stay. In addition, clients in psych wards are almost always there involuntarily, whereas mental hospitals can have a mix of voluntary and involuntary admissions.

Do I Need Mental Health Treatment?

Mental health disorders affect everyone differently in terms of symptoms and severity. Knowing if you need a psych ward vs a mental hospital depends on the imminent danger of your symptoms. In addition, there are a variety of other types of mental health treatment that can suit your unique needs.

Signs that you need immediate mental health treatment at a psych ward include the following:

  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors: This is the main reason why many people are taken to a psych ward. When a person is suicidal that is a sign that their mental health has significantly deteriorated.
  • Homicidal thoughts or behaviors: Similarly, homicidal thoughts indicate severe distress and present a crisis. Increased agitation leading to homicidal ideation could be a sign of psychosis.
  • Psychosis: Losing touch with reality can be dangerous. A person who has hallucinations or delusions needs to seek immediate treatment—especially if they have never experienced these symptoms before.
  • Unable to care for oneself: If a person cannot take care of themselves in a way that puts their life at risk due to a mental illness, they need crisis services at a psych ward.
  • Unable to care for dependents: When a person is a primary caregiver for others, like children or elderly family members, a mental health crisis can put those in their care at risk.

Sometimes, however, you don’t have symptoms that are at a crisis level, yet you still need treatment. Some of the most common signs of mental health disorders include:

  • Excessive guilt, shame, or anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Weight changes
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Substance abuse to cope with symptoms
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless

Regardless of the severity of your symptoms, you don’t need to wait until a crisis to get help. Several types of treatment programs can help you no matter what level of care you need.

Outpatient Mental Health Treatment in Atlanta, GA

Generally speaking, the differences between a psych ward vs a mental hospital have to do with short- vs long-term care. However, if you’ve recently stayed in a psych ward or a mental hospital, outpatient mental health treatment can be the next step in your recovery. North Atlanta Behavioral Health offers outpatient treatment services for mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and more.

Contact us today to continue your mental health treatment.

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Signs Your Antidepressant Dose is Too High

Antidepressants, combined with therapy, can be life-changing for people with mental health disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and depression. However, it takes some time to work with your psychiatrist to find the right medication and dose. That is why it is important to understand the signs that your antidepressant dose is too high.

If you’re taking an antidepressant, it could take some time to notice the effects and to get the balance just right. In addition, over time, you might find that medications are not as effective as they had been in the past. North Atlanta Behavioral Health can help you find the right medication and dose to treat your mental health disorder.

Before you can know if your antidepressant dose is too high, you need to know how your antidepressant is supposed to work.

What Is an Antidepressant?

In addition to depression, antidepressants also treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Common symptoms among these disorders include difficulty regulating mood and managing stress. Antidepressants alleviate these symptoms, which in turn, helps you engage in treatment programs more effectively.

How Do Antidepressants Work?

Antidepressants work by balancing chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters. More specifically, they target neurotransmitters linked to emotional regulation and mood. The two main neurotransmitters targeted are serotonin and norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline).

  • Serotonin: This neurotransmitter regulates nearly every human behavior including sleep, appetite, sexual drive, and mood. When you don’t have enough serotonin, you could have insomnia or oversleep, eat too much or not enough, experience a low sex drive, and feel low or down. All of these are symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders.
  • Norepinephrine: Some mental health disorders are caused by either too much or too little norepinephrine. This neurotransmitter increases your blood pressure and heart rate, helps you focus, and gives you energy. Too much norepinephrine can cause insomnia, irritability, and anxiety. On the other hand, too little can cause a lack of focus, low energy, and depression.

In short, a lack of or an excess of these neurotransmitters can cause symptoms of depression, OCD, anxiety, and PTSD. Therefore, antidepressants work by restoring a natural balance of these chemicals.

However, your psychiatrist won’t know exactly which antidepressants and dosage will work until you try them out. You and your psychiatrist will work together to find the right type of antidepressant and dosage for your symptoms. The goal is to find the right dose and medication for you to have a therapeutic level in your system.

What Is a Therapeutic Level of Antidepressants?

The therapeutic level of any medication refers to the amount of medication in your system needed for the intended effects. Therapeutic levels of antidepressants will be different for each person due to things like body weight, overall health, and metabolism. It will also vary based on the type of antidepressant that you take as well as any drug interactions from other prescriptions.

The goal of finding a therapeutic level of antidepressants is ensuring that the amount of medication in your system is within a certain range. However, the therapeutic level of antidepressants, unlike other psychotropic medications, isn’t monitored by lab testing. Instead, you and your psychiatrist work together to find the appropriate dose to maintain therapeutic levels based on your mood, behaviors, and symptoms.

How Will My Psychiatrist Find the Right Dose for Me?

Your psychiatrist will start you off at a lower dose and increase from there. This is the best way to ensure that you work your way up to a therapeutic level while monitoring side effects. Furthermore, it will take about 4 to 6 weeks for most antidepressants to have any effect as it builds up in your system.

After about 6 weeks, if you don’t notice any changes, then this is a sign that your antidepressant dose is too low. As a result, your psychiatrist will most likely increase your dosage as long as you aren’t experiencing too many adverse side effects. Following this, you will need to monitor symptoms and side effects to make sure your dose isn’t too high.

What Are the Signs That Your Antidepressant Dose Is Too High?

Overall, the purpose of antidepressants is to balance the chemicals in your brain so that you can engage in other therapeutic activities. Oftentimes, people with depression or other disorders struggle to attend therapy or follow a treatment plan consistently. Antidepressants help to improve your sleep habits and appetite, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood.

However, when your antidepressant dose is too high, you will have adverse effects, such as:

  • Feeling numb or a lack of pleasure
  • Significant changes in weight
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Drowsiness, fatigue, and low energy
  • Increased irritability and anxiety
  • Worsening depression
  • Excessive energy or mania

It is also critical to monitor symptoms over time for signs that your antidepressant dose is too high or too low. Sometimes, medications lose their effectiveness as you become accustomed to them. On the other hand, bodily changes as you get older can change how you respond to certain types of antidepressants. Thus, you must find other ways to treat your symptoms rather than relying on medications alone.

What Else Can I Do to Improve My Mental Health?

The best way to treat mental health disorders is by combining medications with therapeutic activities. The types of therapy that work for you depend on your disorder, severity of symptoms, and personal preferences. The best mental health treatment programs provide options for you to find your own path to recovery.

At North Atlanta Behavioral Health, we offer the following therapies for mental health disorders in addition to psychiatry:

  • Talk therapy: Traditional therapy includes talk therapy. However, talk therapy varies based on which modality will work best for you and your symptoms. Common types of therapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
  • Brainspotting: This is a specific type of therapy that involves finding spots in your visual field that activate trauma responses. Brainspotting can help you heal from traumatic experiences and PTSD.
  • Red Light Therapy: Treating symptoms of mental health disorders can also include alternative approaches like red light therapy. Red light therapy can improve sleep quality and mental clarity as well as reduce stress.
  • Holistic Therapy: Our holistic approach to treatment includes nutritional support, exercise, meditation, and exercise. Holistic therapy can improve physical health, which in turn improves your mental well-being.

Find Mental Health Services in Atlanta Today

If you notice signs that your antidepressant dose is too high or too low, you need to reevaluate your medication. In addition, you could benefit from adding multiple approaches to your treatment plan, such as brainspotting or red light therapy. At North Atlanta Behavioral Health, we can help you find a mental health treatment plan that will work for you.

Contact us today to begin mental health treatment in Atlanta, Georgia.

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