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When It’s Time to Consider Hospitalization

Some people don’t like to say they suffer from bipolar disorder. Some see it as a gift. It’s linked to higher creativity and intelligence. Manic highs produce feelings of elation and people can accomplish a lot during hypomanic phases. However, most people would consider bipolar disorder a burden. It can come with agitation, irritability, anxiety, severe depression and dangerous manic behavior. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. It requires close monitoring and treatment. Sometimes that treatment includes inpatient hospitalization. Most of the time, it’s up to the patient whether or not they need to be hospitalized. Making the choice to be hospitalized is one of the most important decisions a person with bipolar disorder can make.

There are plenty of excuses a person can make for choosing not to be hospitalized for bipolar disorder, whether for depression or mania. During manic episodes, many people do not even acknowledge that they have a problem. Other times, during depression or mania, people can think that it’s not as bad as it seems and could be a lot worse.

The choice to be hospitalized is not one to be taken lightly. People who choose to do so are stepping away from certain responsibilities like work or taking care of their families. However, if a person can’t take care of themselves because of severe depression or mania, it’s unlikely they are succeeding at their responsibilities anyway.

Choosing to check into inpatient treatment is difficult. Admitting to oneself that the illness is really that bad can be alarming. However, there are situations in which hospitalization is best:

  • When a person is suicidal whether having suicidal thoughts or plans of suicide
  • When a person is a danger to themselves or others
  • During periods of psychosis in which they hallucinate (see or hear things that aren’t there) or are delusional (believe things that aren’t true)
  • If a person is experiencing substance use problems
  • If there is excessive risk-taking behavior
  • When a person is no longer able to care for themselves or their families, such as during periods of major depression
  • During treatments that require supervision like electroconvulsive therapy
  • If symptoms continue to be severe even after appropriate treatment

Hospital stays can last as short as a week, but can last months. It’s up to the person’s healthcare team to decide what length of stay is appropriate.

There are two types of admittance to hospitalization for mental health care, voluntary and involuntary. With voluntary admittance, the person admits themselves of their own free will, though this may take convincing from others. Involuntary admittance occurs when a person is deemed by authorities to be a danger to themselves or others. This only occurs in extreme cases.

If you are questioning whether or not inpatient care may be the best course of action, the answer may already be “yes.” It’s a difficult decision that may require support from family, friends and medical professionals. Keep in mind that inpatient facilities exist to help you overcome the negative aspects of bipolar disorder. There may come a time when you need to take advantage of that.



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When It’s Time to Consider Hospitalization

LaRae LaBouff

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APA Reference
LaBouff, L. (2017). When It’s Time to Consider Hospitalization. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Nov 2017
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