Effective Treatments For Depression
If you have depression, there are effective treatments. These vary and your treatment will depend on a number of factors, such as the severity of your symptoms.
Your doctor or therapist will help you identify underlying causes and recommend the best therapy for you. You can have one-on-one sessions with a therapist or join a group.
Psychodynamic therapy is the kind of talk therapy people imagine when they think about psychologists probing past experiences in sessions with depressed patients. You might see this type of therapy in sitcoms or jokes, but it is actually a well-known approach to treating depression and other mental health problems.
This therapy helps a person recognize their feelings, beliefs, and childhood experiences. This can help them understand why they have self-defeating patterns and develop new ways of behaving.
The therapist will encourage the client to open up and discuss anything on their mind. This can include current difficulties, old conflicts with other people, and fears, dreams, and fantasies. These insights are often referred to as “free association” in psychodynamic therapy. A recent study examining ten patients’ experiences with manualized time limited psychodynamic therapy found that practical factors were important to patient improvement.
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a well-studied therapy developed by the late Gerald L. Klerman and colleagues. IPT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on a patient’s relationships and social connections. It’s often used in combination with medication for depression and other mental health conditions.
Initially, IPT begins with an assessment. The therapist helps the patient understand that depression is a medical condition and not their fault. They’ll liken the condition to other medical ailments such as diabetes and pneumonia.
During IPT sessions, the therapist and patient will identify interpersonal challenges that contribute to depression. They’ll then rank those challenges and decide which ones to tackle first. This helps the patient avoid getting overwhelmed by all the problems at once. IPT can be done in a group setting or one-on-one.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a third-wave behavioral approach that emphasizes the importance of bringing awareness to one’s values, and committed action to support those values. ACT is an effective treatment for depression.
During the first session, an ACT therapist would likely ask a client to describe their typical ways of coping with feelings of sadness and fatigue. The therapist will then explore how these responses – such as staying in bed, isolating, or canceling plans – contribute to their distress and may actually make things worse.
An ACT therapist will then work with the client to develop an acceptance repertoire by teaching mindfulness techniques, defusion strategies, and values-based behavior. ACT posits that most of psychological suffering results from attempts to control or avoid internal experiences, thoughts, and emotions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps you change your negative thought patterns and behaviors to improve depression. It teaches you that your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations are interconnected. Then it shows you how to break down overwhelming problems into smaller parts so they’re easier to manage.
Your therapist will teach you to identify negative distorted thinking that increases depressive emotions and suicidal thoughts. You will also explore new and more balanced thoughts. You may keep a “thought diary” outside of sessions to practice new coping strategies.
You can get CBT from psychologists, licensed counselors, or certified clinical social workers. Some therapists offer CBT along with other types of treatment for depression. If you’re taking medication, it’s important to continue your medications even after psychotherapy, as sudden withdrawal can lead to severe depression.
Group therapy is a common type of psychotherapy that helps those with depression to connect with others and develop positive coping skills. It is often used in conjunction with individual and/or medication treatment.
Sessions can be free-form or more structured, with the therapist guiding participants in a specific direction. During these sessions, participants are encouraged to share their experiences with depression, and they can offer support to one another. The variety of people in the group provides a sense of community and can give hope to those struggling with depression.
Group therapy can be open or closed, with new members joining in every session (as in Alcoholics Anonymous) or only a select group of participants being invited to join each time (as in some CBT groups). Regardless of the type of group, there are some general rules that must be followed for the safety and effectiveness of the treatment.