Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Getting Started: Talk Therapy for Depression

By Ellen Greenlaw
WebMD Feature

Many studies have found that talk therapy, or psychotherapy, can help treat depression. Talk therapy can help you learn about your depression and help you find ways to manage your symptoms.

“Talk therapy can give you the skills to help handle your depression, so for many people it’s a very empowering experience,” says Larry Christensen, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. “This makes it effective over a long period of time.”

Recommended Related to Depression

Unhappy With Your Antidepressant?

If you’ve ever taken an antidepressant, you know that the first several days or even weeks can be rough. Antidepressants take time to work and some can cause unpleasant side effects like dizziness, nausea, sweaty palms, and diarrhea. When you put all that together, you may start to doubt the value of a medication that takes a month to make you feel better. Chances are good that you will feel better, eventually. If your response to medication is inadequate after 6-8 weeks, talk with your doctor about...

Read the Unhappy With Your Antidepressant? article > >

If you have mild to moderate depression, talk therapy might be all you need to feel better. But if you have more severe depression, you might benefit from medication in addition to talk therapy. Here are some tips for getting started.

What Type of Talk Therapy Is Best for Depression?

There are many different kinds of talk therapy. The two most commonly used for depression are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy. CBT focuses on looking at how negative thought patterns may be affecting your mood. The therapist helps you learn how to make positive changes in your thoughts and behaviors. Interpersonal therapy focuses on how you relate to others and helps you make positive changes in your personal relationships. Both types of therapy can be effective in treating depression.

What Kind of Therapist Should I See for Depression?

Various kinds of mental health specialists offer talk therapy:

  • Psychiatrists. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who treats mental illnesses. While some psychiatrists only see patients to prescribe medication, others also provide talk therapy. In most states, psychiatrists are the only mental health professionals who can prescribe medication.
  • Psychologists. A psychologist can help you learn how to manage your depression and teach you ways to cope.
  • Social workers, counselors, or therapists. These mental health professionals can also help you learn to manage depression and teach you coping skills.

No matter what type of therapist you see, look for someone you feel comfortable talking to. “Your comfort level with the therapist is much more important than what kind of degree that person has,” says Eric Endlich, PhD, a Boston-based clinical psychologist. “Therapy is generally much more successful if you like your therapist and have a good relationship with that person.”

How to Find a Therapist

If you need help finding a therapist, try these suggestions:

  • Ask family and friends. Chances are some of your family or friends have seen a therapist. Ask those you trust for a recommendation. If a therapist you contact can’t see you, ask if she can recommend another therapist.
  • Ask your doctor. Your doctor likely has referrals to mental health specialists in your area.
  • Ask your clergy person. Most clergy members will be able to provide you with referrals for mental health providers.
  • Check with your employee assistance program (EAP). If you work for a large company, your EAP may be able to provide a referral.
  • Check with your insurance company. If you have insurance, your insurance company likely has a list of therapists in their network.

Today on WebMD

contemplation
Differences between feeling depressed or blue.
depressed man
How well are you managing your symptoms?
 
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
 
Woman taking pill
Article
Woman jogging outside
Feature
 
man screaming
Article
woman standing behind curtains
Article
 
Pet scan depression
Slideshow
antidepressants slideshow
Article
 
pill bottle
Article
Winding path
Article