10 Minutes

By THE BALANCE
Fact checked

Depression is a serious mood illness, with approximately 17 million adults in the United States experiencing at least one major depressive episode in the previous year. 1 It can have an impact on how you think, feel, interact with others, and go about your everyday activities. It can make you depressed and make you lose interest or pleasure in things you used to appreciate. Depression can strike anyone at any time, and it can strike at any age, but it most typically strikes in adulthood.

The good news is that depression is very durable, with estimates ranging from 80% to 90% of patients responding well to treatment. 2 One of the reasons that depression responds so well to treatment is that it can be treated with drugs, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Finding the proper psychotherapist to help you understand and work through the underlying causes of depression while also developing coping techniques to deal with the symptoms is frequently the first step toward feeling better.

When it comes to mild to severe depression, “talk therapy” is frequently the initial step. Before attempting medicine, many experts will take this option. If your depression is more severe, you may need medicine, and you may need both treatment and medication at the same time. It’s critical to grasp the distinctions between counseling and psychotherapy before moving forward.

Sadness therapy is a specialized, non-invasive treatment that can help you address the fundamental reasons for your depression, practice good self-care skills, and find ways to manage your symptoms. If you’ve had one or more symptoms of depression for 14 days or more, you should get help from a therapist near you. Irritability, chronic anger, or a sense of being on edge are some of the symptoms that people experience. You might also have trouble concentrating and sleeping, be unhappy, or struggle to balance work and family obligations.

Many people use the terms “psychotherapy” and “counseling” interchangeably. While the two are extremely similar, it’s crucial to remember that psychotherapy with a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist (MD) is sometimes regarded as a more long-term method that focuses on depression and deeper issues that are having a big impact on your life. Counseling, on the other hand, is more commonly thought of as a short-term treatment that focuses on mild to moderate symptoms as well as external functioning and behavior.

The form of therapy is typically determined by the length and intensity of the symptoms and episodes of depression. Working with a psychiatrist or psychologist (PsyD) may be important if you’ve been depressed for a long time and your symptoms are severe, as they deal with issues from the past that may be deeply embedded in your current mood. Working with a therapist in a counseling relationship may be beneficial if the symptoms of depression are newer or less severe.

The therapist will use “talk therapy” to help you understand and work through the difficulties that are negatively impacting your life throughout counseling. Their job is to listen, give criticism, and collaborate with you to build coping techniques. They’ll also assess your progress and make adjustments to your sessions as needed. You may be assigned homework to supplement your counseling sessions’ learning. This is frequently done by keeping track of one’s moods and sentiments.

Depression isn’t a symptom of a lack of strength. It isn’t something that can be “snapped out of.” It’s a condition that necessitates medical attention. People can feel better with the correct care, though. Antidepressant medicines can help some persons with depression symptoms, particularly those with severe depression. Psychotherapy, either alone or in combination with drugs, is also a successful treatment. Psychotherapy may have a long-term effect that protects against recurrence of symptoms even after treatment has ceased.

Grief and Bereavement Counseling Techniques

Depression therapy will help you realize how depression is influencing your life and provide you with the coping tools you’ll need to appropriately manage your depressive symptoms. Prescription drugs, lifestyle changes, a support group, or a combination of treatments may be recommended by your therapist. 

Therapy can assist you in identifying the source of your depression. Depression therapists employ a variety of safe, non-invasive strategies to help you process ideas, feelings, and events that may be related to your symptoms. Psychiatrists may prescribe antidepressant drugs to be used in conjunction with talk therapy, and therapists may investigate physiological factors that can provoke depression symptoms.

Psychotherapy can assist people suffering from depression in identifying life circumstances that contribute to their depression and assisting them in finding methods to modify, accept, or adapt to such occurrences. Set attainable objectives for the future. Determine which faulty mental processes or unhelpful habits are contributing to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Develop abilities to manage symptoms and issues, as well as to recognize and prevent future depressive episodes.

Psychotherapy can assist patients in learning new methods to cope with stress and manage their depressive symptoms. These methods can aid rehabilitation and allow patients to perform at their best.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also simply CBT, motivates a person to identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors associated with them. Individuals who suffer from depression mostly suffer from negative thought patterns. These patterns of thought may impact our behavior. In turn, behavior impacts thought patterns. This forms a continual cycle of negative thoughts and depressed moods. In a lot of cases, people’s thought patterns are partially a result of their core beliefs. Therapists who apply CBT help patients point out their core beliefs, talk about the negative thoughts that come from them, and adjust their actions accordingly.

Many studies have shown that CBT is an effective treatment for depression. Some of them are as follows: 

  • There was a study that found CBT just as effective as antidepressant medications in curing patients of depression. In the same study, it was also found that patients who finished the full course of CBT sessions were more likely not to experience a relapse of their depression symptoms after treatment than the ones who received only medication.
  • Another, more recent study evaluated that patients treated with CBT had a major improvement in their depression symptoms.

However, it is necessary to take into account that some research does find mixed results, and patients with the strongest of symptoms also normally show the most improvement from therapy.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy is almost the same as CBT. As a matter of fact, many of its tactics are based on CBT. However, DBT is different in the way that it teaches clients to identify, accept, and regulate their emotions. As the name shows, DBT helps clients get involved in a “dialogue” with their emotions and behaviors. Therapists teach their clients to challenge the contradictions in the attitudes and emotions that are holding them back from making positive changes in their life. DBT offers a lot of benefits in curing depression. Studies have supported these benefits, such as one study which was published in a 2016 issue of Child and Adolescent Mental Health reported an “improvement in depressive symptoms for adolescents following a course of DBT.” Other studies have shown improvements for adults and even for the elderly at a similar level.

Behavioral Activation (BA)

Behavioral activation is similar to both CBT and DBT. Just like the other two types of therapy, BA is focused on a client’s behaviors and thoughts. Mostly, behavioral activation is used in conjunction with other therapeutic tactics to cure depression. BA helps patients get used to a long-term coping strategy by identifying specific goals and putting the effort in to meet those goals. When an individual is depressed, he or she might attempt to avoid certain activities like social events. Therapists use behavioral activation to create positive reinforcements and help clients make an action plan to help them overcome behaviors that could have been avoided.

The client becomes increasingly confident and begins to work towards realistic goals. This results in the sense of positivity and accomplishment being reinforced. In turn, clients begin to reduce depressive thoughts and behaviors. Behavioral activation is hardly used on its own. It is most likely to be used along with other therapeutic techniques as part of a holistic treatment plan. However, being used without therapeutic techniques, BA has been seen to help clients with low to moderate levels of depression. Though, researchers write that the best results mostly come from a full-scale treatment. It is also important to consider that behavioral activation is a rather new therapy. Due to this, some studies have concluded that more research has to be done before the real efficacy of behavioral activation may be noted.

Problem-Solving Therapy (PST)

Problem-solving therapy is another therapeutic technique. This technique helps patients cope with stresses in life that negatively impact their mental health. Stress is experienced by everyone, but extreme stresses in life (life stressors), also known as chronic stress, could take a huge toll on our mental health. PST is crafted in a way to help people that struggle with depression or anxiety to identify and manage those stressors. In practicing PST, it builds off of techniques that are established like adaptive problem-solving and mindfulness to help clients understand and cope with stress better. PST is also helpful to clients by being more effective in processing negative emotions that may occur when we experience hardships, like the loss of our job or the death of a loved one.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) For Depression

Interpersonal therapy was initially formed to help treat adults suffering from depression. It is now being used to treat other mental health disorders increasingly, as well. The goal of IPT is to help clients that suffer from mild to moderate depression, help them address the problems with interpersonal connections, and improve relationships. Almost like problem-solving therapy, IPT focuses on the patient’s actions and reactions. Normally, IPT is time-limited, which means that treatment could only last for about 20 sessions. The length may vary based on the client and what they need. In this time, the therapist and client:

  • Identify important interpersonal relationships in the client’s life;
  • Address how these relationships affect them mentally;
  • Learn skills and strategies to enhance these relationships.

Research has shown that IPT may have a positive impact on individuals suffering from depression. Even though I could be more effective when incorporated into other forms of therapy, such as CBT.

Counseling patients with different types of depression mostly requires a really special person with certain traits and qualities. Depression counselors need to be accepting and non-judgmental, for example. They also need to be excellent listeners with an actual interest in helping people. Because depression does not discriminate, as a counselor of depression, you could work with all sorts of different people. This includes people of different ages, races, and socioeconomic statuses. Some depression counselors, however, may choose to counsel only certain demographics or treat some types of depression and not all of them.

If a client has not already been diagnosed with depression, a depression counselor will normally need to assess and diagnose him. For the counselor to do this, he or she will usually interview the client and need him to fill out a questionnaire. The answers to the interview and questionnaire inquiries may then be used to find out the type of depression and how severe it is.

Once a depression counselor learns his client’s situation better, he may then start to work towards treating him. A few types of treatment techniques could be used to help clients come out of a depressed state. Mostly, however, depression counselors will use treatment techniques like psychotherapy, talk therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. By using these counseling techniques, a depression counselor may help his or her clients get a better understanding of the conditions they are in. They may also offer guidance on how to cope with or deal with the challenges of life.

In some cases, simple therapy or counseling could be enough to treat depression. In cases where depression is severe, a counselor of depression could be needed to refer his clients to psychiatrists or psychiatric hospitals.

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