Psychotherapy for depression

Psychotherapy is recommended for depression

When treating depression, psychotherapy is often the first form of treatment that is recommended. Psychotherapy is actually a range of techniques employed to treat specific mental problems and disorders. Psychotherapy is one of the traditional ‘talking therapies’ in which a patient talks to a trained psychotherapy practitioner to better understand the factors that are causing their depression and then find ways to work through it.

There are psychological as well as psychosocial factors that contribute to depression. Depression can be present in some people due to a family history of the problem or it can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. The factors that trigger depression can work in combination with these imbalances and therefore need to be taken care of when treating depression with psychotherapy.

How does psychotherapy help people with depression?

Psychotherapy works with the individual suffering depression by understanding what it is that contributes to their problem. Depression factors are typically found in the person’s behaviours, emotions or ideas. Psychotherapy also identifies problems and events that contribute to depression such as illness or physical injury, bereavement, redundancy or relationship breakdowns. By understanding the aspects of these problems the psychotherapist can help a patient find ways to solve them or make improvements. Psychotherapy for depression can also teach various coping techniques and problem-solving skills for times when the patient is alone or in social situations they find difficult.

Psychotherapy can be given in a variety of formats including individual sessions, group therapy, family therapy or marital/couple therapy. Within these formats there are also different psychotherapy approaches that a mental health practitioner may utilise. Psychodynamic therapy works by assuming that the patient is depressed due to unresolved issues that they are unaware of (typically stemming from childhood). Interpersonal therapy targets the behaviour and interaction with family and friends. By helping the depressed patient improve communication and self-esteem the psychotherapist can work on a depression that stems from bereavement, relationship issues, life events or social isolation.

Psychotherapy that uses cognitive behaviour therapy helps depression by identifying and altering the individual’s perception of themselves and the world around them. Cognitive behaviour therapy is recommended for people who think and behave in a way that triggers their depression. It is also recommended for people who suffer depression that causes interpersonal issues, suffering or disability.

Psychotherapy tips for depression

Psychotherapy works best when the patient attends all of their scheduled appointments. How effective psychotherapy is depends on the participation of the patient and this requires time, effort and regular sessions. Goals should be established from the start and regularly reviewed along with progress. If therapist and patient cannot find ways of making the therapy work then a second opinion should be sought – the therapy shouldn’t just stop.

When starting psychotherapy, it is important to identify what causes stress. This is what can be triggering the depression so a good idea is to keep a journal to note stressful events as well as positive ones. Communication is a key factor in overcoming depression so find someone who is trustworthy to express feelings to. Focus on the positive outcomes that psychotherapy can bring, make time for pleasurable activities and find methods that will help with stress management.

Psychotherapy requires the evaluation of thoughts and behaviour and those people who actively get involved with their treatment are the ones who recover from depression more quickly and suffer fewer relapses.

Article submitted by
Daniel Alexander, GoToSee Journalist

Date published
22/09/08


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