How Counseling For Depression Could Improve Your Life

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated May 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Over 280 million people worldwide are diagnosed with depression, and over 64% of Americans receive treatment for their symptoms. Asking for help can be challenging due to mental health stigmas and myths, but more individuals than ever before are reaching out for support from therapists, counselors, and other mental health care providers.

Depression is a mood disorder and can impact more than one area of life and may cause physical symptoms on top of emotional ones. For some, it could seem easier to stay home and put off seeing a therapist, and depression can come with symptoms of isolation. However, seeing a therapist may provide more relief than many people think as depression is highly treatable with a licensed psychologist. For many, seeking support is a life-saving decision.
Are you ready to talk about your depression?

What are the symptoms of depression? 

Despite how common it is, there are parts of depression that may not be understood by everyone, including those living with the condition. Part of that may be due to how the term is used in media and society. 

Although people may use the term “depressed" when a disappointment occurs in their lives, depression is more than disappointment or sadness. When two uses of the word become conflated, people may make inaccurate assumptions about what depression means. 

Depression is a term to describe depressive disorders, which are serious and real mental illnesses. There are several depressive disorders, including persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder, with major depressive disorder (MDD) being the most prevalent. According to the National Institute for Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Association, major depression and other forms of depression may come with the following symptoms: 

  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Feeling guilty without a discernible reason
  • Isolation or loneliness 
  • A loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities or hobbies 
  • Unusual fatigue, headaches, or physical pains 
  • A loss of libido 
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Suicidal thoughts* 

If you’re experiencing symptoms from the above list, you might benefit from reaching out to a depression therapist. If your experiences last for at least two weeks or longer and cause functioning difficulties in your daily life, you may be living with depression. There is a link between depression and substance abuse or substance use disorders and drinking alcohol or using drugs may make depression worse. Depression symptoms, whether a major depressive episode or more moderate depression symptoms, can be challenging to face independently, but you don’t have to. Therapy is available.

What is depression therapy?

Treating depression of any degree is serious. That’s why some people have dedicated their careers to helping individuals through the struggles of mental illness. Depression counseling sessions allow individuals to connect with a licensed mental health provider to discuss their symptoms and develop a treatment plan. It is important to note that only licensed psychiatrists may prescribe antidepressant medications and a therapist or counselor may not. 

One of the benefits of finding a counselor is that several different approaches have been proven to treat or help clients manage depressive symptoms. One such approach is cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, which has proven to be one of the most effective and widely used approaches to handling common conditions like depression or anxiety

However, CBT is not the only approach, and there are hundreds of therapy modalities to choose from including interpersonal therapy, supportive therapy, and acceptance commitment therapy. Finding a counselor is not a shortcut but can be the first significant step in feeling better. At times, the first counselor you see may not be a fit. However, many people change therapists a few times before finding a match. It can be normal to take your time and ask questions before settling on a professional.


How depression therapy can benefit you

There are several benefits of depression counseling that you might notice when signing up for talk therapy, including the following. 

Depression counseling addresses unwanted thoughts and behaviors

Those experiencing depression may experience frequent cognitive distortions, which are unhelpful negative thinking patterns that can cause distress and worsen symptoms. Certain types of therapy, like CBT, can help clients challenge these thought patterns and replace them with helpful ones while learning unique coping strategies and activities they can use at home. Many mental health professionals utilize this modality given its proven efficacy for major depressive disorder and other conditions. Other types of therapy can also offer unique forms of advice, coping skills, and techniques that are not limited to cognitive or behavioral theories.

Depression counseling provides non-judgmental support

Depression counseling can be solution-oriented and avoids placing blame on any one individual for symptoms. If you feel trapped by your depression, knowing how to find a way out without support can be challenging. Counselors specialize in taking an objective viewpoint of their client’s experiences with depression and can offer actionable advice proven to help individuals with this condition make changes. In addition, due to ethical guidelines, these providers often take a non-judgmental and non-biased approach, which may make it easier to talk about depression and behaviors for those who abuse alcohol or drugs. 

You can receive a personalized approach 

Counseling isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Although many standard techniques are used for depression, like CBT, the actual specificities of those practices may vary. Having a counselor means taking part in your own healing journey with the goal of finding the best strategies for you. 

You can improve your mood through lifestyle changes

Depression therapy often offers clients suggestions for lifestyle changes to improve their mood. With depression, a low mood can be one of the most distressing symptoms for many. Lifestyle changes have been found to have scientific benefits that change brain chemistry, physically causing endorphins (happy chemicals) and neurotransmitters to release in the brain and body. A few changes your counselor might suggest can include the following: 

  • Spending time in nature
  • Exercising for 10 to 30 minutes a day 
  • Creating art
  • Listening to music 
  • Meditating or practicing mindfulness
  • Writing in a journal or creating a memoir 
  • Writing poetry 
  • Talking to friends and family members
  • Partaking in a repetitive activity, like diamond painting 

Counseling options 

Considering support is the first step to receiving it. If a small part of you is considering counseling as a way to treat depression, it may be beneficial to seek the right mental health services for you. You can change your therapist or treatment options as needed, and therapy is personalized to your needs. In addition, if you face barriers to standard in-person therapy, you can try alternative formats like online counseling, which can be more reachable and cost-effective for many. If a family member or loved one is experiencing depression and it is impacting your relationship or causing interpersonal conflict, family therapy is available.

Online therapy provides networks of professionals who are available to offer support, and multiple studies have backed up its efficacy, showing that it can be as effective or more effective than traditional counseling. Through an online platform, you can specify your preference to meet with a depression therapist and choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions. If you struggle to leave home on challenging days, you can meet with a therapist from your bed or couch. 

Those looking to get started immediately can sign up with a platform like BetterHelp, which offers a quick sign-up process and a matching process that is often under 48 hours. Once you get matched with a therapist, you can discuss your concerns and create a treatment plan, often in the same week. 

Are you ready to talk about your depression?


Living with depression can be challenging, and there may not be shortcuts to feeling better. However, deciding to reach out to a therapist can have a multitude of benefits. You’re not alone, and a counselor can be a compassionate and constant voice in your life as you learn to manage your symptoms. Consider contacting a therapist online or in your area to gain further insight into how these professionals can serve you.  

Depression is treatable, and you're not alone
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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