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Psychotherapy for Depression

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What are the different types of psychotherapy? continued...

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), or NP (nurse practitioner), 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.

Familycounseling 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. If possible, find someone who has expertise in helping people with treatment-resistant depression. 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).

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