Therapies for Depression

Therapy is one of the best ways to face mental disorders head on. It gives you a chance to confront your issues and learn to cope with them, if not completely solve them. This post is going to focus on a variety of the therapies offered, however it will only touch upon some of the most popular forms of treatment.

Psychotherapy, known as ‘talk therapy’, is a form of treating depression by counseling patients and helping them understand their illness. It helps them develop strategies and tools for dealing with their symptoms, stress, and behaviors. There are many different kinds of psychotherapies as it is not a ‘one-size-fits-all” approach. The kind of psychotherapy a person receives depends on his or her needs.  While psychotherapy may be the best, and only option for those with mild or moderate mental illnesses, those with severe depression may need medication as well. Several, but not all, forms of psychotherapies will be discussed.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT is a blend of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy focuses on a person’s thoughts and beliefs while behavioral therapy focuses on a person’s learning, actions, and behaviors. Both of these can influence a person’s mood and actions. CBT attempts to change a person’s thinking to be more positive, healthy and adaptable. CBT helps restructure negative thought patterns so a person can interpret their environment and personal interactions in a positive and realistic way. It also helps a person recognize things that could be contributing to the depression and teaches realistic coping skills.

Interpersonal Therapy, or IPT focuses on the interactions and behaviors a person has with important people in their life on a day-to-day basis. IPT is used to treat depression and dysthymia and focuses on helping a person improve their communication skills and increase their self-esteem. This therapy focuses on emotions and depression that is usually situational, such as loss/grief, relationship conflicts and major life events. The therapist helps the patient identify their troubling emotions and triggers and teaches them how to express their emotions in a more appropriate and healthy manner. A variation of IPT, known as Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy or IPSRT is used to treat bipolar disorder

Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, or DBT is a form of CBT developed to treat people with suicidal thoughts and actions. Dialectical refers to a discussion of two opposing views until a balance of the two extremes is found. The therapist assures the patient that their behaviors are valid and understood but also teaches that it is the patient’s responsibility to change disruptive or unhealthy behaviors. DBT involves both individual therapy, to learn new skills and group therapy, to practice them. DBT is also an effective treatment for patients with borderline personality disorder.

Family focused therapy, or FFT was designed specifically for treating bipolar disorder. FFT includes family members in therapy sessions to improve relationships and identify difficulties and conflicts which could be detrimental to a patient’s treatment. This therapy specifically focuses on educating the family about the disorder, teaching family members how to effectively communicate, and solving problems together as a family. FFT focuses on the stress families feel when they are caring for their relative, and aims to prevent ‘burning out’ but also holds the patient responsible for their own well being and actions. Several studies have found FFT to be effective in helping a patient become stabilized and preventing relapses.

There is also the therapies developed by Sigmund Freud, psychodynamic and psychoanalytic therapies. These therapies will discussed in a future post, as well as an explanation for why there therapies are no longer used by today’s therapists.

National Institute of Mental Health

The Mayo Clinic


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