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 appropriate and workable coping strategies for dealing with everyday stressors. In addition, it can help you 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 2004 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. According to a review of treatments published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2005, there are few conclusive studies of psychotherapy specifically in people with treatment-resistant depression. But many experts still recommend it.
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 isa one-on-one session with a professional therapist, who might be a PhD, DSci, CSW, NP, or PA, with experience in depression and other mood disorders. In those sessions, you will address individual problem areas. The session may include specific help with acceptance of the diagnosis, education about depression, ways to identify the warning signs, and intervention strategies to manage stress and other depression triggers so you can avoid a major episode.
What are the different types of psychotherapy? continued... Because life’s stressors can exacerbate a depressive mood episode, one-to-one sessions can help the person with depression identify stressors as well as increase coping skills and overall resilience. Adequate sleep is especially important in depressive illnesses since poor sleep can precipitate a depressive episode. Working with a therapist, patients can learn to identify barriers to getting the sleep they need. They can also develop healthy patterns of activity and social involvement, thereby influencing their overall quality of life. Additionally, when needed, therapeutic sessions can focus on compliance with regular office appointments, taking prescribed doses of medications, and obtaining blood medication levels. Family counseling treats the entire family because depression extends far beyond the patient. Family members often have to cope with the patient's low moods during the depression. While family members may have the best of intentions, without professional guidance, they sometimes make things worse. Families are frequently involved in outpatient therapy as they become educated about the various signs and symptoms of depression and work with the therapist and patient to learn how to recognize early warnings of an impending episode. Recent findings suggest that these sessions may be valuable treatment components, adding significant benefit to medication compliance and lifestyle and sleep management. Family meetings are also beneficial for helping everyone deal with the stress of an emotional illness. They also allow the patient and family members to openly discuss grievances without placing blame. Group counseling sessions allow for the sharing of feelings and the development of effective coping strategies. The give-and-take at group sessions is often the most productive way to change the way you think about your illness and improve your ability to cope with life’s challenges and difficulties.
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). While there are many types of therapy, don't worry too much about the approach. Focus on finding a therapist whom you like and trust. Many therapists use a combination of approaches anyway.
What is maintenance therapy for depression? While some people only need therapy for short periods of time, people with treatment-resistant depression might need it for longer. 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, here are some things to consider before you try psychotherapy 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.