Struggling With Depression? Therapy Can Help
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated March 05, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Depression is not something that should be taken lightly. If you are struggling with depression, you're not alone. Depression is treatable and therapy can help you gain control of your emotions and improve the quality of your life.
Symptoms Of Depression
There are different levels of depression. You may experience just mild levels of depression from time to time to severe depression regularly. The first step to getting help is understanding what the signs and symptoms of depression are. Once you can start to identify depression, you can reach out for help from a therapist when you start to struggle.
Some of the symptoms of depression include:
- Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy
- Lack of motivation for work
- Either having difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Experiencing a loss of appetite or overeating regularly
- Increased irritability
- Feeling sad or down
- Feeling hopeless
- Withdrawal from family and friends while also feeling lonely
- Low energy levels
- Suicidal thoughts
When most people think about the symptoms of depression, they think of mental and emotional symptoms. There are also physical signs of depression as well that many people fail to recognize. They can include the following:
- Pain throughout the body
- Problems with your digestive system
Causes of Depression
There are many different reasons why people experience depression. Some people experience depression after going through a rough time in their life. It could be the loss of a loved one, a relationship, or a job. It could be a difficult relationship that they are in or even feeling like life isn't going the way they expected.
Other people are diagnosed with things like Major Depressive Disorder. In situations like these people may have struggled with depression for their entire life without really knowing what has caused it. Whether you know why you are struggling or not, therapy can help. For some, therapists will be able to help them discover the cause of their depression which can help them find the right tools to cope with it and overcome it. For others, therapy will help them learn things that they can do to lessen the impact that depression has on their everyday life.
Types of Therapy for Depression
Many different types of therapy can be used to treat depression. When you start meeting with a therapist, you can ask them questions about the form of therapy that they use and what their reasoning is for it. Don't be afraid to ask questions during your therapy session.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is an effective form of therapy for people suffering from depression. It helps by empowering you to take an active role in your recovery. The therapy works by focusing on changing your thought patterns. When you take control of your thought patterns, it helps you to change your behaviors and feelings as well. Between appointments, you'll be given homework such as keeping records for your next appointment. As you learn ways to cope with your depression, you will gain a feeling of confidence and self-control.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
This is another form of CBT that focuses on teaching how to deal with stressful situations. It teaches you how to regulate your emotions. It also incorporates mindfulness and learning skills to help regulate intense emotions that accompany depression.
Learning how to practice mindfulness can help people that experience feelings of depression and anxiety. Mindfulness is a practice where you learn to remove your emotional response to a situation. So, you learn to just be present at the moment. You allow things to happen without passing judgment on them. So, instead of fighting feelings like sadness, you allow yourself to feel them without feeling bad for feeling that way. This helps you learn to process things differently, which can remove some of the negative impacts of difficult emotions from you.
Light Therapy for Depression
If you struggle with depression more during the fall and winter months, you could be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is more common if you live in a location that experiences a high number of cloudy days throughout the season. Light therapy is when you spend time sitting in front of a light therapy box. It's believed that exposure to light can help boost your mood. It's also believed that this can help with other forms of depression as well. Some mental health conditions could be negatively impacted by using light therapy. It's important that you talk to a mental health professional before trying something like this on your own.
This is a form of therapy that many mental health professionals don't believe is enough to treat depression on its own. However, it is an effective way to help people gain greater self-awareness and find some relief from their depression symptoms. It's a form of talk therapy.
Formats for Therapy
Not only are there many different types of therapy that you can do, but there are also different ways that you can take part in these therapy sessions. Here are some popular options:
This is exactly like it sounds. During individual therapy sessions, you meet with the therapist one-on-one. This can be helpful because you have the undevoted attention of your therapist. It can also make it easier to share because there is no one else that's listening in on your conversation.
Group therapy is often a more affordable option for therapy because you are meeting as part of a larger group with the therapist. You don't have one-on-one attention, but you are in a group with other people that are dealing with some of the same struggles that you are dealing with. This can be very helpful in giving you examples of coping mechanisms that are helping others. It also helps to show you that you are not alone in your struggles.
If you are married or in a serious relationship and dealing with depression, it can help your therapist and your significant other if you participate in couples' therapy. This will help you learn how to handle your depression and your relationship and also help educate your loved one on what they can expect and can do to help the situation. It can help for them to hear what you are going through and for you to hear what your depression is like from their perspective. This can help clear up confusion such as letting them know that it's not that you don't want to spend time with them, just that your depression is causing you to want to withdraw from the world at the moment. It can be helpful for your loved one to learn that your depression is not about them.
Sometimes it will benefit all parties involved for you to attend family therapy. This allows the therapist to see how you interact with your family as a whole and for them to spot any problem areas that could be addressed. It also helps your family to learn coping mechanisms as well.
There is also the chance that your therapist will think it's best to do a combination of these formats. If you are married, it could be helpful for your spouse to attend couples counseling with you several times while you still maintain your counseling as well.
Find What Works Best for You
Fighting depression can seem overwhelming at times but know that there is always hope. Look for the type of therapy that works the best for you. If you prefer to meet in person with a therapist, then find one that is in your local area. If you want to be part of a group setting than you can search for groups or ask a therapist to recommend a group for you.
If the thought of leaving the house to meet with a therapist sounds overwhelming because of your depression, there are other options. There are solutions such as BetterHelp that allow you to get the benefit of therapy for your depression right from your own home. These companies provide you access to counselors and therapists that you can access via text message, emails, phone calls, and video chats. You don't have to leave your house, and you don't have to worry about getting dressed and out of bed. If you have a day where you are struggling, you can still get the help that you need.
It doesn't matter what form of therapy you choose as long as it's working for you. There is no one size fits all answer. Many people find that a mix of multiple things which could include medication, self-care, and therapy sessions is the answer that they need for depression, but it's different for each person. The first step in getting the help that you need is finding a therapist that can help you get started on the path to recovery and healing.