Treating depressionsunlight

What are the benefits of psychotherapy with depression?

There are a number of benefits to be gained from using psychotherapy in treating clinical 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 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.

What are the different types of psychotherapy?

There are many different types of therapy. Here are some of the most common.

Cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy all focus on how your own thoughts and behaviors contribute to your 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 an MD (psychiatrist/physician), PhD (psychologist), PsyD (psychologist), LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), NP (nurse practitioner), or other licensed mental health professional, 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.

How do I find a therapist?
You will want to find a qualified therapist -- usually a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, psychiatric nurse, or counselor. Ask your health care provider for recommendations. Or get in touch with an organization like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). You can also do your own research online, where you will find numerous listings of mental health professionals. You may want to consult with more than one therapist before deciding to work with someone long-term. That said, it sometimes takes some time before you get a feel for a therapist, and you may want to give it more time before jumping to any conclusions. Don't be afraid to voice any concerns or questions you may have. Choosing a therapist is a very important decision.

What kind of treatment do you provide for depression and how long does it take?
I borrow from a number of different practice theories, and adjust my method to fit the individual. Depression means something different for everyone. It may be something that has come upon you recently, or something you've been dealing with as long as you can remember.

You should keep in mind that generally speaking, the longer you have been dealing with an issue, the longer it will take to make significant changes. If you have been suffering from depression for the past 20 years, it's not realistic to expect 3 months of treatment will amount to major changes. This is not to say, you might not feel better quickly, but lasting changes take time. I realize we are in a society that is always looking for the quick fix and the shortcut. Unfortunately, I don't believe that this works when it comes to mental health. Many of our issues are very deeply routed in our character and changing this is going to take time and effort.

The good news is that change is usually possible if you want it badly enough, and have the determination and perseverance to stick with treatment.