If you have depression, the most recommended treatment for you would be psychotherapy. The term psychotherapy, which is also known as therapy, in short, involves various techniques of treatment. During therapy, you talk to a licensed, trained, and experienced therapist in mental health care. The specialist helps you and works with you through the identification of factors that may trigger your depression.
At times, the factors affecting you may be as a result of the combination of chemical and hereditary imbalances. If you take care of the psychological and psychosocial aspects that affect you, you are as good as someone who has received treatment or therapy.
In some cases, your body chemistry would change. The changes may influence how you think and your moods and may result in depression. Your depression may also be due to biological factors. It may also serve as an indication that your life is emotionally or mentally out of balance. For instance, if you are having significant changes in your life or if you are dealing with a stressful turn of events such as death of a family member or loss of property.
How does depression differ from occasional sadness?
It is normal to occasionally feel sad or blue. If you grieve over unfortunate life occurrences such as divorce, death, sickness, or loss of employment, then you are just perfectly normal. Just like in most cases, this feeling of grief should wear off and lessen as time passes.
If the ‘sad’ feeling you are having exceeds for two weeks, and if it affects your daily routine, then you may be having something more serious than just being sad.
If you are depressed, you tend to have a hopeless and helpless feeling, and you start blaming yourself for having the feelings. Depression may start to overwhelm and exhaust you such that your daily routine is affected. You may start avoiding your friends and family, and in some severe cases, you may start feeling suicidal.
If you have depression, chances of being treated are very high if you receive good care. If you suspect that you, your friend, or family member may be suffering from depression, it is vital to seek help from a licensed and experienced mental health professional, specializing in assisting depressed persons. If one's depression is disregarded, cases of isolation and negative unexpressed feelings may become worse. Therefore, it is important to emphasize the importance of seeking appropriate help.
How does psychotherapy work?
If you have depression, psychotherapy helps you:
- Figure out the emotions, ideas, and behavior that lead to your situation.
- Identify and know how to deal with your life problems and events (divorce, illness, death of a friend or family member) as well as understand one's behavior.
- Learn how to cope such situations and give you problem-solving techniques.
- Know how to take back the control and pleasures of your own life.
Types of Therapy
Therapy is usually administered in different setups. They include:
- Individual - This arrangement will only involve you and the therapist.
- Group - This setup may involve you, the therapist, and a number of other patients at the same time. You are able to share your thoughts with others as they share their own situations and experiences. As you learn how they feel about your situation, they also benefit from knowing how you feel about theirs.
- Marital/couples - This setup is for married people or people who are in a relationship. This type of therapy helps you understand why your partner has depression. You will also learn how to communicate and behave with your partner to help him or her cope certain situations.
- Family - Your family is very important in helping you recover from depression. You work as a team. It will be very helpful if your family members understand what you are facing, know how they can cope with you, and what assistance they can offer you.
Approaches to Psychotherapy
There are different approaches to therapy. After assessing your situation, your mental health care specialist will decide on which type of approach is suitable for you based on the causes and factors that influence your depression.
1. Psychodynamic Therapy
In psychodynamic therapy, the therapist assumes that depression is caused by unconscious unresolved conflicts that gradually build up from your childhood. This type of therapy has an objective of helping you understand and deal with your thoughts and feelings by talking about them. Psychodynamic therapies usually last for four months. In some cases, the therapy may last longer than four months and can even take years.
2. Interpersonal Therapy
In this type of therapy, your therapist focuses on your interactions and behavior toward your friends and family. Its objective is to help you improve your communication skills and boost your self-esteem in a given period of time. Your therapist will suggest this type of therapy if your depression is caused by conflicts in your relationship, if you are dealing with divorce, if you are mourning the loss of a family member or friend, or if you recently had a significant event in your life.
In general, interpersonal and psychodynamic therapies will help you resolve your depression if:
- your depression is caused by loss or grief
- your depression is as a result of relationship conflicts
- your depression is caused by role and life transitions such as adopting or conceiving a baby
3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
If you have depression, cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to identify unnecessary perceptions and improve your self-esteem to help you change how you think and feel about yourself, the people, and the world around you. The therapist will help you identify a new thinking pattern by showing you the helpful and unhelpful assumptions you make about yourself and others.
Your therapist will recommend cognitive behavioral therapy if you have the following:
- thoughts and behavior that trigger and increase depression
- severe depression and taking prescribed antidepressants
- do not like or if you cannot take antidepressants
- very mild depression
- any age and is suffering depression that compromises your daily life activities
Giving your therapy time, effort, and regularity helps you get the best out of it. It works best if you attend all your appointments and actively participate in it.
Your therapist will help you identify and establish your goals at the beginning of the therapy. The therapist will also take time to review your progress. If you do not like the way your therapist is approaching the therapy, or if you find the therapy unhelpful, talk to your therapist about it. If you reach an agreement, you can seek a third party opinion or look for another therapist. However, do not abruptly discontinue your scheduled appointments.
Tips to Help You Get Started
- Identify the causes of your stress by keeping a diary of the events that stress you and those that make you happy.
- Organize your priorities by always focusing on the positive and helpful behavior.
- Create time for pleasure and recreation.
- Focus more on positive results and identify the ways to reduce and control stress.
Generally, psychotherapy involves evaluating how you think and behave, identifying what causes your stress, and modifying both. If you actively participate in your therapy, you recover fast and you have very little chances of relapsing. Therapies are specific to their causes and generally take long to administer, unlike antidepressants. In case you are suffering from severe depression, you will immediately be put on antidepressants and therapy. This combination is found to be very effective.
Your friends’ and family’s support are essential for your recovery from depression. The people who help you recover are referred to as your "support system". Your support system can help you stick to your schedule and prescriptions. They can also help you practice your problem-solving skills and help you with the coping techniques that you learned during therapy.