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Major Depression


Major depression is a type of mood disorder. A mood is an emotion or a feeling. Moods affect your behavior and how you feel about yourself and life in general. Depression is a sad mood that you cannot control. Major depression is a medical condition.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


Rarely, antidepressant medicine may increase thoughts of hurting or killing yourself after you begin using it. Without treatment, depression often gets worse. Depression can make it hard to work or to get along with others. It may also affect the way you eat and sleep, which may lead to illness. Depression may cause you to want to hurt yourself or others if you are not treated.


Psychiatric assessment:

Caregivers will ask if you have a history of psychological trauma, such as physical, sexual, or mental abuse. They will ask if you were given the care that you needed. Caregivers will ask you if you have been a victim of a crime or natural disaster, or if you have a serious injury or disease. They will ask you if you have seen other people being harmed, such as in combat. You will be asked if you drink alcohol or use drugs at present or in the past. Caregivers will ask you if you want to hurt or kill yourself or others. How you answer these questions can help caregivers decide on treatment. To help during treatment, caregivers will ask you about such things as how you feel about it and your hobbies and goals. Caregivers will also ask you about the people in your life who support you.

Care settings:

An inpatient unit is the place where you will stay while in the hospital. It has bedrooms and a living area. Sometimes the doors of this unit are locked.

  • Clothes: You may wear your own clothes while you are in the hospital.
  • Meals: You will eat your meals on the unit or in the cafeteria with other patients.
  • Personal belongings: When you are admitted to the unit, caregivers will search your belongings. Any belongings brought to you during your stay will also be searched. This is done to keep you and the staff safe.


  • Psychiatrist: This is a medical doctor who works in the area of mental health. The psychiatrist is in charge of ordering your medicine. You may work closely with this doctor and another caregiver.
  • Therapist: This is a caregiver who works closely with you while you are being treated. This person may be a doctor, psychologist, nurse, mental health counselor, or social worker.


You may have 1 or more of the following medicines during your stay.

  • Antidepressants: This medicine is given to decrease or stop the symptoms of depression. It may take some time to start working. You may need to take antidepressants for up to 1 year. If you have had more than 2 past episodes of major depression, you may need to use antidepressants longer.
  • Antianxiety medicine: This medicine may be given if your depression makes you feel nervous. It may make you feel drowsy.
  • Sedatives: This medicine may be given if you are having trouble sleeping. It may make you feel drowsy.
  • Psychostimulant: This medicine may be given if your depression makes you feel tired all the time.

Patient rights:

  • Release of information form: This is a legal paper that lets caregivers share information with those listed on this form. You will need to sign this form before any information will be released to persons outside the hospital.
  • Right to privacy: Information that you share with your caregivers will be kept private among hospital caregivers. They will not share information with others without your permission.


  • 72-hour hold: This is when you are put in the hospital for 72 hours without your permission. The police or a caregiver may decide to put you in the hospital. This may only be done if others are concerned that you may hurt yourself or someone else. It may also be done if caregivers or police do not think you can safely care for yourself.
  • Quiet room: This is an empty room used for patients who need to have time out in a safe place. You may be put here if caregivers are concerned you may hurt yourself or others.
  • Restraints: There are 2 types of restraints that may be used while you are in the hospital. They will only be used if caregivers feel you are in danger of hurting yourself or others. Physical restraints may be put on your wrists or ankles and tied to something else. These are usually cloth or leather bands. Other things will always be tried before using physical restraints, such as going into a quiet room or seclusion. Caregivers may use chemical restraints. This is medicine used to help you calm down and relax. Restraints should never be used to punish you.
  • Seclusion: This is when you need to be locked in a safe room because you are out of control. The door is locked because you might want to leave the room. Caregivers will closely watch you while you are in seclusion. You may come out of seclusion when caregivers feel you will not hurt yourself or others.
  • Sharps: You will not be allowed to keep any sharp items with you. Sharp items include scissors, nail files, razors, or glass. Ask a caregiver if you need to use one of these items.

Types of therapy:

Your caregiver may suggest several different types of talk therapy in addition to medicine. You may have 1 or more of the following therapies and treatments:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy helps to make you aware of how you see things. You may have trouble seeing the good in things around you. Then you are more likely to feel depressed, sad, or angry. Cognitive therapy teaches you to recognize how you see things and helps you to see them in a more positive way.
  • Interpersonal therapy: This therapy helps you focus on having better relationships. You may learn how to cope with loss, rejection, and stress in a healthy way. You will learn ways to get along better with others.
  • Light therapy: This may be used if your depression gets worse during certain seasons (fall or winter). It also may be used if you live in a place that gets little sunshine. You will sit in front of a box that gives off a safe light. You may need to do this daily for several months.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): This may be used for patients with life-threatening depression who have not been helped with medicine or therapy. You may get medicine to help you relax before an ECT treatment. During the treatment, a small amount of electric shock is sent through the brain. After ECT, you may have trouble remembering things for a short time.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Major Depression (Inpatient Care)

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Symptoms and treatments