Have you felt like you’re not yourself lately? Maybe you can't seem to get out of bed in the morning, or perhaps you're losing interest in your hobbies. If that sounds familiar, then you could be experiencing depression.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a mental illness that covers a wide range of experiences. Some people only experience mild episodes of depression, but there are also people who are diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
When people experience depression, they may feel sad, lonely, empty, or even angry. They may lack the motivation to do the things they used to enjoy.
Some symptoms of depression include:
- Loss of energy
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of appetite or changes in your weight that can't be explained
- Anger or a short temper
- Lack of interest in activities you normally enjoy
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or loneliness
Without treatment, these symptoms can linger for a long time, especially for someone with major depression.
Types Of Therapy For Depression
There are a variety of therapeutic modalities for treating depressive symptoms, including talk therapy, medication, and support groups. Research suggests that adults with depression do not respond the same to therapeutic approaches and that finding the right type of therapy helps people with depression recover faster.
According to an article published in World Psychiatry, factors to consider when looking for a good therapist include your health insurance coverage, the therapist's area of focus, safety concerns, and personal preferences. It may require some trial and error to discover what works best for you. Not every type of therapy is the same, and you may have better results if you find a therapist who matches your specific goals.
People with depression are at a higher risk for substance abuse. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the best approach to treating depression symptoms for someone who also abuses substances is to treat them both at the same time. It may require a therapist who specializes in substance abuse to help the client through detox and other substance abuse-related interventions while also learning strategies to cope with depression.
Here are five of the different types of therapy for depression that could help you make positive changes in your life:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a popular and effective form of therapy for those experiencing symptoms of depression. Empirically supported by countless peer-reviewed studies, this therapy modality aims to help people learn how to change their behaviors by first learning how to change their thoughts.
CBT is based on the theory that our thoughts impact how we behave, which is a principle of early psychotherapy techniques like psychodynamic therapy. Therefore, by challenging the original thought patterns, we address the base issue instead of just working on changing behavior.
Whether through individual therapy or as a group, patients tend to take an active role in CBT sessions. This involvement may help people maintain a sense of control throughout the process. When undergoing CBT for depression, anxiety disorders, or other mental health concerns, individuals generally keep logs and complete homework in between sessions. As patients become better at recognizing negative thought patterns in their life, they can start taking steps to improve them through behavioral activation.
Many different types of therapy build off of the principles of CBT therapy to treat a variety of mood disorders and mental health conditions. For example, psychoanalytic therapy is a form of in-depth talk therapy where the therapist asks open-ended questions that may increase self awareness about the thought patterns behind maladaptive behavioral patterns. CBT works by combining talk therapy with learning new skills to change response patterns.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is similar to CBT. It also aims to help people identify negative thoughts that produce undesired emotional and behavioral responses. Moreover, DBT tends to incorporate skills to increase tolerance of those negative emotions. It often focuses on teaching patients how to control emotions, tolerate stress, and work toward acceptance with behavioral activation. DBT also usually includes group therapy sessions and not just individual counseling sessions.
Light Therapy For Depression
Some people experience depression as a result of the change in seasons. They may be particularly sensitive to getting fewer hours of daylight in the winter. This is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Light therapy is a form of treatment that is used for people experiencing SAD. They sit in front of a seasonal depression light therapy box designed to allow their body to reap the benefits that the sun normally provides. It's believed that this can help to address depression symptoms, particularly improving mood and sleep, by affecting the chemicals in the brain.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Having a solid social support system can be beneficial for people with depression. Interpersonal therapy, or IPT, doesn’t necessarily address the root causes of depression, but it can help to improve relationships for a person experiencing depression. When someone is experiencing moderate to severe depression, it's likely that their relationships, even with those closest to them, are also impacted. Feelings of depression can make it difficult to interact with friends and family in a positive way, but family therapists trained in IPT may be able to help you resolve this challenge.
Relationships with family members, romantic partners, and friends can be impacted by the symptoms of depression. IPT allows the person to choose one or two behaviors they believe need improvement for their relationships. Then, the therapist typically focuses on these areas in relationship or family therapy sessions.
Acceptance And Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, can be beneficial to people with depression in several ways. Individuals receiving ACT typically learn how to “accept, choose, and take action.” ACT can also teach them how to be present in the moment instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Lingering on past experiences can exasperate symptoms of depression and other mood disorders. In ACT therapy, they typically practice observing their feelings in a nonjudgmental way. This therapy modality also often helps people identify the aspects of life that are the most important to them and then act according to those values.
Medication can be a helpful part of depression treatment. It is often used in addition to psychotherapy. If your therapist feels that medication may benefit you, they may refer you to a doctor or psychiatrist for a medication evaluation.
The Role Of Self-Care
When it comes to overcoming depression, self-care may play a significant role. Here are some things that you can try when practicing self-care:
Make Wise Food Decisions: What you eat can play a significant role in how you feel. You might try to eat a healthy and balanced diet each day. In some cases, depression can make it difficult to eat anything. This may be especially true for those who are experiencing comorbid eating disorders.
Avoid Harmful Substances: Alongside making better dietary choices, it may also be important to limit or even eliminate your use of substances like alcohol, tobacco, and narcotics. Some people use substances as a way to cope with the symptoms of depression. While substance use may seem to provide a temporary sense of relief, it’s not a healthy treatment strategy in the long term. A therapist may be able to help you overcome substance use and addiction. If you experience addiction or any form of substance use disorder, rehabilitation treatment is often recommended first.
Maintain A Sleep Schedule: Depression can negatively affect your sleep routine. To mitigate this symptom, you might try to go to bed at the same time each night and get up and out of bed in the morning. It may help to form a plan to avoid the urge to stay in bed all day or to stay up all night.
Keep A Journal: Journaling is often another effective treatment strategy and a healthy way to process your thoughts and emotions. Some people prefer to practice journaling at night so that they can get their thoughts out of their head before trying to fall asleep. Others like to start the day by journaling about things for which they’re thankful.
Exercise: Research shows that exercise can help relieve symptoms of depression. When you get moving, you release endorphins in your brain that can help to boost your mood. Exercise can also be a release for your negative thoughts and emotions. You don't have to do a full 30 minutes or hour of exercise each day to get the benefit. If all you can do is get moving for 10 minutes, even this may help relieve symptoms of depression. You can find an activity that suits your personal preferences and then aim to be consistent.
Get Outdoors: The fresh air and sunshine tend to be natural mood boosters. If the weather is nice where you are, then you might try to get outside for a few minutes. Even if the weather isn't optimal, the fresh air can sometimes provide noticeable relief for symptoms of depression.
Online Therapy Can Help
People experiencing debilitating symptoms of depression are sometimes hesitant to reach out for therapy in person. They may feel uncomfortable around people or even struggle to get out of bed to get ready for office-based appointments. In these cases, online therapy could be a better option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Type Of Therapy Is Often Used To Treat Depression?
What Are The 3 Basic Approaches To Treating Depression?
What Is The First Treatment Of Choice For Depression?
What Is Cognitive Therapy For Depression?
What Are The 4 Major Treatments For Sad?
What Are The Two Main Types Of Treatments For Depression?
What Is The Most Common Therapy?
What Is The Best Therapy For Anxiety?
How Does Behavioral Therapy Treat Depression?
Which Therapy Is Most Likely To Be Used Only With Severely Depressed Patients?
What Is The Best Treatment For Clinical Depression?
Is Depression Curable Or Just Treatable?
Do I Need Counseling Or Therapy?
What Is Most Done To Prevent Depression?
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