Psychotherapy or is an effective treatment for depression. Psychotherapy may not be enough to resolve severe depression. But it can play an important role when used with other treatments, including medications.
What Can Psychotherapy Do To Help With Depression
The role of psychotherapy in treating depression is to help the person develop good coping strategies for dealing with everyday stressors. In addition, it can encourage you to use your medications properly.
Benefits of Psychotherapy with Depression
There are a number of benefits to be gained from using psychotherapy in treating depression:
- It can help reduce stress in your life.
- It can give you a new perspective on problems with family, friends, or co-workers.
- It can make it easier to stick to your treatment.
- You can use it to learn how to cope with possible side effects from depression medication.
- You learn ways to talk to other people about your condition.
- It helps catch early signs that your depression is getting worse.
Types of Psychotherapy
There are many different types of therapy. Here are some of the most common that have been studied for the treatment of depression:
- Cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy all focus on how your own thoughts and behaviors contribute to depression. Your therapist will help you learn new ways to react to situations and challenge your preconceptions. You and your therapist might come up with concrete goals. You might also get “homework” assignments, like keeping a journal or applying problem solving techniques in particular situations.
- Interpersonal therapy focuses on how your relationships with other people play a role in your depression. It focuses on practical issues. You will learn how to recognize unhealthy behaviors and change them.
- Psychodynamic therapy is a more traditional form of therapy. You and your therapist will explore behavior patterns and motivations that you may not be aware of which could contribute to feeling depressed. You might focus especially on any traumas of your childhood.
- Individual counseling is a one-on-one session with a professional therapist who might be a psychiatrist/physician, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker with experience in treating depression and other mood disorders. Your therapist can teach you more about depression and help you understand the diagnosis. You can discuss new strategies to manage stress and to prevent your depression from worsening or coming back.
One-on-one sessions can help you identify the specific stresses and triggers that worsen your depression. A therapist can help you work through issues at home or at work, and encourage you to maintain healthy connections with family and friends. Your therapist can also help you adopt good habits, like making sure you take your medicines, seeing your doctor regularly, and getting enough sleep.
Family counseling treats the entire family because it’s not only the person with the diagnosis who is affected by depression. If you’re depressed, your family feels it, too. And unfortunately, although family members might have the best of intentions, without professional guidance, they sometimes make things worse.
Family therapy is a great way for family members to learn about depression and the early warning signs of trouble. Studies suggest that family sessions might really help with treatment, too, improving a person’s lifestyle, compliance with medication, and sleep habits.
Family meetings also offer an opportunity for everyone you and your family members to talk about the stresses of life with depression. You may all feel more comfortable talking openly with a therapist there to guide the conversation.
Group counseling sessions give you a chance to meet other people who are struggling with depression just like you are. You can share your experiences and coping strategies. The give and take at group sessions is often a productive way of learning new ways to think about your illness.
Maintenance Therapy for Depression
While some people may benefit from short-term therapy, people with treatment resistant depression might be more likely to benefit from longer-term treatment. This is called maintenance therapy. Studies show that maintenance therapy lowers your risk of relapse. You and your therapist can watch for signs that your depression might be worsening. Over time, you will also learn about the patterns in your life that lead to depression.
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