How Therapy Serves as an Effective Treatment for Depression
Updated: Dec 22, 2021
October is Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, which focuses on raising awareness of depression as well as the need for accessible and affordable mental health screenings.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression is influenced by a variety of factors, including environmental, genetic, psychological, and biochemical components, and can affect anyone at any time. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it impacts how you feel, think, and behave. During an episode, sufferers usually experience symptoms most of the day, nearly every day. Symptoms include:
Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
Anger, irritability, or frustration
Loss of interest in normal activities
Changes in sleep habits, including insomnia or sleeping too much
Lack of energy
Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
Trouble concentrating, speaking, or controlling body movements
Fixation on feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or self-blame
Thoughts about death as well as suicidal ideation or attempts
Fortunately, depression is a highly-treatable condition, making it all the more important to seek professional help if you or a loved one is struggling.
Four Types of Therapy to Treat Depression
Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” is a highly-effective treatment option for depression, especially when combined with an antidepressant. Patients should discuss the approach best-suited for them with their therapist. Options include:
Cognitive Therapy: Cognitive therapy revolves around the belief that your thoughts affect your emotions. For instance, if you emphasize the positive aspects or the silver lining of a situation, you’re more inclined to feel better. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, which can worsen depression. Through cognitive therapy, people learn to recognize patterns of negative thinking and turn them into more positive ones. Sessions usually last between six weeks and four months.
Behavioral Therapy: Here, patients focus on changing the behaviors that impact emotions. Behavioral activation, for example, encourages you to participate in activities that will improve feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy work well together to treat mood disorders and are often combined into cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This method addresses both the negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to depression. Through journaling, you learn to acknowledge self-defeating behaviors, all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, and other cognitive distortions. Identifying common response patterns allows you to learn new ways of thinking and responding. CBT is goal-oriented and typically involves 5 to 20 structured sessions.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: The main difference between dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and CBT is that DBT asks patients to accept their negative thoughts. This practice of validation allows you to better cope with and respond to the stressors of daily life. DBT also includes mindfulness and crisis coaching, which encourages a patient to call a therapist for in-the-moment guidance during a tough situation. As you repeatedly practice your new skills, you become better prepared to face challenges on your own.