Psychotherapy for Depression
Psychotherapy -- or "talk therapy" -- is an effective treatment for clinical depression. On its own, 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 clinical depression?
The role of psychotherapy in treating clinical 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.
Many studies support the idea that therapy can be a powerful treatment for depression. Some, although not all, have also found that combining depression medicine with therapy can be particularly effective. A review published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, for example, concluded that therapy combined with antidepressants worked better than depression medicine alone. It also supported the idea that therapy can help people stay compliant with their drug treatment in the long term.
Although there are fewer studies of therapy for treatment-resistant depression specifically, many experts still recommend it. One 2007 study found that for people who didn't respond to a specific drug treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy worked as well in reducing symptoms as switching to a different medication. On its own, therapy might work more slowly than medication, but it also causes fewer adverse reactions.
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 the roots of your depression. 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 PhD, DSci, CSW, NP, or PA -- 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.