How does therapy help depression?
September 19, 2022
The impact of depression is often misunderstood by individuals who have not experienced it. Depression can be pervasive and debilitating, causing individuals to struggle in their jobs, at school, and in their relationships. When experiencing depression, individuals describe losing interest and pleasure in things they used to enjoy, and in severe depression may even feel as though nothing matters. Some individuals describe feeling hopeless, helpless, and/or worthless during times of notable depression. If an individual feels their life is being impacted by depression, there are several different types of therapy available that may be effective in alleviating depressive symptoms.
Different therapies may place greater emphasis on interventions that address one’s thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors. Treatment is not a one size fits all, and while all of these treatments have been found effective in research, what works for one person may not work as well for others. When picking a therapeutic modality - consider your own preferences.
Therapies that Focus on Your Thoughts
A common therapy used for depression is cognitive behavioral therapy. This includes all points of the triangle above, with an emphasis on identifying and modifying thought patterns. Individuals examine the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to modify thoughts that produce feelings of sadness, hopelessness, etc. as well depressive behaviors. Often, these thought/behavior/feeling patterns are established early in life and exploring the thoughts that lead to depressive feelings and behaviors can be crucial to changing a depressive person’s thinking patterns. This is more of an analytical approach to treating depression, and usually involves recording thoughts and behaviors across periods of time to become more familiar with your thought and feeling patterns.
Therapies that Focus on your Feelings
Person-centered therapy is mainly focused around feelings, and allows the patient the opportunity to explore their thoughts and feelings in a positive, supportive environment. This can be very helpful for individuals to process triggers related to their depression – whether it be ongoing stressful situations, past experiences, relationships, stress, etc.
Therapies that Focus on Your Behaviors
Behavioral activation can be very helpful in breaking the cycle of depression. When depressed, an individual often stops participating in pleasurable activities, which makes them feel worse, which leads to additional avoidance. A therapist can help an individual set goals related to behavioral activation and keep them motivated and accountable. As an individual slowly begins to participate in regular activities again, they will feel more confident and capable and begin to enjoy activities again.
There are many different approaches to treating depression, and it is important to find the approach that works best for you. Give your therapist feedback on strategies that do or do not work well for you – it is also ok to seek out another therapist if you feel that you are not comfortable with a therapist or their approach to therapy.
At CHE, we offer a no obligation FREE screening with a licensed therapist. They will ask a few questions, provide you with valuable resources and recommend therapy if needed. You can easily schedule online and choose your therapist. We accept most insurances and offer self-pay options.
Melinda Warth, M.A. is a Quality Assurance Associate at CHE Behavioral Health services. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and has provided therapy to individuals of all ages struggling with depression and other mood disorders.