Understanding the difference between an residential mental health facilities vs hospital psychiatric care is challenging. Even though hospital psychiatric units and residential inpatient treatment programs seem similar, the reality is there’s a big difference between residential treatment programs and a psychiatric hospital unit stay.

Regardless of what mental health condition, substance abuse disorder or dual diagnosis you may be struggling with, it’s important to find the right care for you or your loved one. At Ranch Creek Recovery we can help you find the right treatment in the Murrieta & Temecula region. Whether it is at one of our luxury homes or at a partner facility in the area, we are here to help. Give us a call and ask questions, thats what we are here for. (877) 997-8931

Residential Mental Health Treatment vs Psychiatric Units

No two residential treatment centers or hospitals are exactly the same. However, you can expect to find some general similarities and differences between residential treatment at residential treatment centers and in hospital settings.


Both residential inpatient treatment and psychiatric units offer intensive mental health treatment from experienced mental health professionals. Most offer a combination of group therapy and individual therapy and can provide treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders.


At the same time, inpatient mental health hospitalization and residential treatment in a mental health facility are also different. For example, a hospital stay differs from an inpatient treatment program because it helps stabilize a patient. A residential program offers skills and resources for long-term recovery. Simply put, medical services are the primary goal for hospital units, while inpatient treatment focuses on behavioral and mental health challenges.

Residential inpatient programs are set up for longer-term stays of up to three months, whereas hospital psychiatric visits are generally much shorter. For many people, entering a psychiatric hospital is a great first step to receiving assessments, managing medications, getting help with detox or creating initial recovery goals. Patients often find transitioning from a psychiatric hospital into an inpatient treatment program helpful.

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What To Expect in a Hospital Stay

Patients admitted into a psychiatric unit can expect 24-hour medical care. They have full access to health professionals capable of managing symptoms of withdrawal, medications and trouble adjusting. It’s not uncommon for people to enter a hospital mid-crisis, sometimes through the hospital emergency room. Unlike inpatient programs, psychiatric hospital unit visits always take place in licensed hospital facilities. Licensed doctors can look closer at your overall health concerns and conditions instead of focusing only on mental health disorders or other challenges.

Some people find that addressing serious mental health issues in the hospital is a good way to seek treatment before deciding about inpatient or residential care. This is because they can work with trained mental health professionals in the hospital setting to determine what type of inpatient and residential program might be best for them.

During your stay in a psychiatric unit, ask your doctor about partial hospitalization programs, outpatient clinics, residential rehab, inpatient programs and other treatment options.

What To Expect in Inpatient and Residential Treatment

If a longer-term stay in a more casual environment sounds like a good fit and you aren’t in a mental health crisis, a residential treatment center or program could be a great choice. In inpatient residential treatment, you will work with mental health professionals to focus on your mental illnesses, challenges with substance abuse, goals and more.

An inpatient treatment program will often offer family therapy, group therapy, various mental health services, a mentor for your recovery process and more. Because most people entering inpatient residential mental health treatment are not in an immediate mental health crisis, healthcare professionals can focus more closely on behavioral health problems than in a crisis unit.

Residential inpatient care programs also offer outreach to help with failing or struggling relationships or challenges due to substance use disorders, long-term drug abuse, behavioral challenges and more.

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Specific Skills and Treatments

Residential inpatient programs will offer proven therapies, such as dialectical behavioral therapy and group therapy. In a residential facility, you’ll learn skills for daily life, regardless of having a dual diagnosis or a substance use disorder. Trained, experienced professionals will work with you one-on-one and in groups to help you manage the early stages of the recovery process. Together, you’ll make a plan for your transition back home and connection to community mental health centers.

Residential and Inpatient Treatment Supports

In a residential setting for young adults, for example, patients work privately with a mental health professional to talk about mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder. They meet in groups to practice social skills and attend educational sessions. Residential inpatient rehab programs can offer treatment options that aren’t generally part of a hospital’s services. These options could include coordination with a treatment team for a discharge treatment plan with ongoing support.

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Learn More About Depression

Living with depression can feel like you’re adrift in the ocean with no life vest and no rescue boat in sight. Like powerful waves hitting your face and controlling your every move, depression can feel commanding, terrifying and without end.

For those dealing with a substance use disorder, self-medicating to manage feelings of depression can sometimes seem like a viable way of coping with symptoms. While alcohol or drug use can provide short-term relief from depression, it consistently leads to severe substance addiction and even greater ongoing emotional issues. Understanding how depression affects you can help you find ways to manage it and recover from substance abuse.

How Depression Works in the Brain

Depression has been shown to literally alter your brain, changing the actual neural pathways and shrinking the size of your hippocampus – an area of the brain that regulates memory and emotions. Depression can make you feel foggy and exhausted, since your brain has to work harder to process information and feelings.

Research has shown that an imbalance in neurotransmitters in the brain can also contribute to depression. Fortunately, there are ways to restore this balance of brain chemicals and help alleviate symptoms. Holistic treatment interventions – including mindfulness training and nutritional management – are essential components to repairing existing neurological issues and alleviating feelings of depression.

Effects of Depression on the Brain

Problems with depression typically occur when excessive amounts of cortisol are sent to the brain due to stressful experiences or a chemical imbalance in the body. In a healthy brain, brain cells are produced throughout a person’s adult life in a part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus. However, in people with depression, the long-term exposure to increased cortisol levels can slow the production of new neurons and cause the neurons in the hippocampus to shrink.

This can lead to three identified issues that impact the brain:

• Brain Inflammation
Brain inflammation during depression is linked to the amount of time a person has been depressed. One recent study indicated that people depressed for more than 10 years showed 30 percent more inflammation compared to people depressed for less time. This type of long-term inflammation exacerbates a person’s feelings of depression, making the process cyclical and extremely difficult to break.

• Brain Shrinkage
Current studies have shown that the hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex can be affected by excessive feelings of depression. When experiencing depression, these parts of the brain have been shown to shrink in response to the reduction in essential neurotransmitters that help the brain stay healthy. The amount these areas shrink is linked to the severity and length of the depressive episode that is experienced and vary from person to person.

• Oxygen Restriction
People who experience depression have also been shown to deal with reduced oxygen in the body. This is caused by alterations in breathing patterns, which are triggered by the excessive emotionality being experienced. This hypoxic reaction is directly related to depressive symptoms and can have an identifiably negative impact on your brain.

Addiction, Depression, and the Brain

The relationship between depression and substance abuse is co-occurring – meaning that people who struggle with substance addiction are more likely to experience depression. This routinely leads individuals to self-medicating or excessive substance use to lift their mood or escape from their feelings of hopelessness and despair.

The problem that people struggling with addiction run into is that a substance like alcohol actually increases feelings of sadness within a person. Alcohol may relieve symptoms for a short time, but once the high wears off, they’re left feeling worse than before.

If you are dealing with both depression and a substance addiction, then you are experiencing a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. This refers to any combination of addiction and mental health disorder (anxiety and depression) that’s impacting an individual’s life.

When a person struggles with substance abuse and a mental illness, the results can be devastating to both their physical and mental wellbeing. Fortunately, addiction treatment is available to address all aspects of your co-occurring disorder.

Holistic, Co-Occurring Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

Your new life starts the moment you declare you have complete control over your actions, health and future. At Ranch Creek Recovery, we provide holistic dual diagnosis treatment that offers personalized and long-lasting care.

To learn more about our life-changing co-occurring treatment programs or to begin your recovery contact us today.