How are outpatient treatment and intensive outpatient treatment different, and what does that mean for your unique situation? Read on for a handy overview.

Every year, 1 in 5 adults struggles with mental health issues. This is according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In the old days, the stigma around the disease limited treatment options, despite how common mental health problems are. Thankfully mental health issues have stepped out of the shadows. At the same time, more systems have emerged to help those of us who are struggling with our mental health.

There are two categories of treatment for mental health issues: inpatient and outpatient. Outpatient, which is a broad category, can be broken up into two types: outpatient and intensive outpatient.

Inpatient care involves staying full-time at the facility where you receive care. Typically this is at a psychiatric hospital.

Outpatient care is any kind of treatment that occurs with the patient continuing to live at home. It covers everything from therapy to prescription medications.

Both outpatient and intensive outpatient care can be helpful for a variety of mental health issues including depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect from outpatient vs intensive outpatient (IOP) care.

Level of Support

Outpatient care and intensive outpatient care both involve therapy or other support services. The biggest difference is the number of hours and frequency of care.

Outpatient treatment is generally meeting with a therapist or counselor once a week or less. IOP is multiple meetings a week, usually totaling at least nine hours of treatment.

People who need more than a weekly meeting, but don’t need inpatient care can get more treatment by switching to IOP. If you think you could benefit from IOP and need help getting started, SOBA New Jersey offers outpatient services for mental health.

Length of Treatment

Intensive outpatient care is generally done for a limited amount of time. Because of the time commitment, it is harder to sustain long-term. Ideally, a person will benefit from the IOP treatment and be able to graduate to general outpatient care.

Outpatient care is manageable long-term. It can help people continue to use the strategies they learned in inpatient or IOP treatment.

IOP vs Residential Care and Inpatient Care

Comparing intensive outpatient vs inpatient treatment is comparing outpatient to inpatient care. Inpatient treatment involves a patient living full-time in a hospital facility. During IOP, a patient lives at home.

Generally, patients with substance abuse problems have to start with inpatient care while they detox. After that initial inpatient period, IOP has been shown to be effective.

Residential care is not the same as inpatient care. Residential care is treatment in a home-like setting rather than a hospital. Patients are generally under less supervision than inpatient care, where they are monitored all day and night.

There are several differences between IOP and residential treatment. One is that IOP allows a patient to live at home and be among their support system (whether family or friends). Another is that IOP allows patients to function in their regular lives while also receiving frequent treatment.

How to Know if You Need Intensive Outpatient Support

If you’re asking yourself, “Is intensive outpatient right for me?” talk to a professional to see if you’re a good candidate. Intensive outpatient is one of many options people with mental health issues can take advantage of today.

Don’t put off seeking treatment. You’re not alone and your mental health matters.

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