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Psychotherapy for Depression

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

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).

What is maintenance therapy for depression?

While some people may benefit from short-term therapy, people with treatment-resistant depression might be more likely to benefit from longer-term treatment. This is called maintenance therapy. Studies show that maintenance therapy lowers your risk of relapse. You and your therapist can watch for signs that your depression might be worsening. Over time, you will also learn about the patterns in your life that lead to depression.

If you have treatment-resistant depression, you may have already tried therapy. Maybe you didn’t feel like it worked.  But it may be time to give it a second chance.  Here are some things to consider before you try again:

  • Think about the reasons you didn't like therapy before. Why didn't it work? What did you need from therapy that you weren't getting? 
  • Decide what you want out of therapy now. Do you want to tackle specific problems? Do you want to work through upsetting events from your past? Come up with goals. 
  • Consider going back to your old therapist. Even if therapy didn't work last time, that doesn't mean that the therapist was at fault. The experience may be different if you approach therapy with specific goals this time. Going back to a previous therapist may be easier, since he or she will already know your history and situation. 
  • Consider trying someone new. It's very important that you like and respect your therapist. If you and your therapist didn't "click," therapy is unlikely to work. So you could try someone new. You might even want to meet with a few different therapists before choosing one. Ask about their approaches. Talk about your goals.
  • Give it time. Once you have settled on a therapist, you need to give therapy a chance to work. Don't give up after a few sessions. Like with depression medicine, therapy can require a little time before you feel the benefits.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on June 26, 2013
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