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Can You Be Hospitalized for Severe Anxiety?

The symptoms of anxiety disorders can prevent a person from fully engaging in a productive and satisfying life. In some cases, they can undermine a person’s career progress, disrupt their relationships, and cause them to become isolated from family and friends. In today’s post, we answer some important questions about acute anxiety, including: What are the treatment options for people who suffer from extreme anxiety symptoms? And can you be hospitalized for severe anxiety?

What Is Anxiety?

To understand if you can be hospitalized for severe anxiety, it can first be valuable to quickly review what, exactly, anxiety is when this term is used in a mental health context.

Anxiety is characterized by extreme fear and excessive worry. In some cases, anxiety can also cause distressing physical symptoms.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes entries for several anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
  • Agoraphobia
  • Selective mutism

The main differences between most anxiety disorders are the circumstances that can prompt the onset of symptoms. For example, people with specific phobia may experience distress when viewing a trigger such as a spider or blood. Someone with social anxiety disorder may struggle when meeting new people or being in a situation where they may be viewed and/or judged by others.

In the cases of GAD and panic disorder, symptoms may occur out of the blue for no apparent reason. 

What Are the Criteria for Severe Anxiety?

By definition, any anxiety disorder is both distressing and disruptive. Determining if someone has severe anxiety – and if that severe anxiety would be best addressed via hospitalization — is a decision that clinicians make on an individual basis. 

Factors that may influence this determination include the level of distress that a person experiences and the degree to which their symptoms have impacted their ability to function in various important areas of life. 

Some clinicians use tools such as the Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale (OASIS) or the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-Item screening (GAD-7) to help assess the severity of a patient’s symptoms.

Can You Be Hospitalized for Severe Anxiety? 

Now, let’s answer the question at the top of today’s post: Can you be hospitalized for severe anxiety?

Yes, you most definitely can.

When someone is hospitalized for severe anxiety or another complex mental health condition, this is typically referred to as inpatient care. Some medical hospitals have mental health wings where people can receive inpatient treatment for anxiety and other psychological concerns. Other facilities are devoted solely to providing mental health services.

Inpatient treatment, or hospitalization, is the most intensive level of care for people who have mental health challenges. Though each facility may differ in terms of their focus, policies, and procedures, most inpatient programs feature elements such as the following:

  • Length of stay is usually relatively brief, rarely longer than two weeks.
  • Patients live at the center where they are receiving care.
  • Inpatient facilities offer round-the-clock supervision and support.
  • The goal of inpatient care or hospitalization for severe anxiety is to help people achieve the level of stabilization that will allow them to return home or step down to a lower level of care.
  • Patients may take part in multiple forms of therapy, including individual, group, and outpatient sessions.
  • Patients may receive basic medical services as needed.
  • Nutritional education and therapeutic recreational activities may be incorporated into treatment.

As a patient approaches the end of their hospitalization, they should receive a discharge plan to guide their continued progress. This plan may include a recommendation for step-down services (which we will discuss in the next section) as well as information about beneficial community-based resources.

What Are Other Treatment Options for Severe Anxiety? 

As we noted earlier, inpatient treatment (or hospitalization) for severe anxiety is an intensive, short-term option to help people achieve stabilization.

After completing an inpatient program, many people step down to one or more of the following levels of care for continued support:

  • Residential mental health treatment: A residential program is similar to inpatient care or hospitalization in that patients live at the facility. However, residential programs usually offer longer lengths of stay, from 28 days up to several months. This can be an ideal option for people who need extended time in treatment to regain control of their thoughts and learn how to better manage the symptoms that they have been experiencing.
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): Though the word “hospitalization” is in the name of this option, PHPs are actually outpatient programs. As with residential programs, PHPs usually offer full days of treatment, often around six hours per day. But PHPs do not have a residential component. When the treatment day is done, or on days when sessions are not scheduled, patients can return to their homes or to alternative supported residences.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs): At the IOP level, patients usually take part in a few hours of treatment a few days each week. This level of care for anxiety offers the greatest degree of flexibility, while also providing patients with a structured connection to quality clinical care. IOP patients have ample opportunities to practice their healthy living skills in real-world environments. They can then process their experiences and receive focused feedback during future treatment sessions.

While it is valuable to know that you can be hospitalized for severe anxiety, it is equally important to understand that you have an array of other options. The levels listed above can offer step-down support after you have completed inpatient care – but they can also be entry points to treatment if your needs are not severe enough to mandate hospitalization.

Find Treatment for Severe Anxiety in Atlanta, GA

Peachtree Wellness Solutions offers multiple levels of customized care for adults who have been living with severe anxiety and other disruptive mental health disorders. To learn more about our programs and services, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our admissions page or call us today.