Depression Treatment and Psychotherapy
For those experiencing depression, seeking treatment is the first step towards regaining control over their mental health. However, finding out what type of treatment will be most effective can be difficult to determine, which is why it is vital that persons diagnosed with clinical depression inform themselves about all of the options available to them. For instance, in addition to depression medication, psychotherapy can be a very effective way of dealing with depression symptoms such as fatigue, social isolation and overall feelings of sadness.
What is Psychotherapy?
Although the term psychotherapy may seem foreign at first, it is actually just the medical term for what is more commonly referred to more simply as ‘therapy’ or ‘counseling’. During psychotherapy, the patient talks with a trained mental healthcare professional about her depression symptoms, as well as what might be causing them, and how they might be treated. Psychotherapy is often the first step in depression treatment.
How Does Psychotherapy Help Treat Depression?
Psychotherapy is designed to help people get in touch with their depression so that they can gain control over their mental health. Its goal is to help people:
- Understand what triggers their symptoms of depression.
- Understand and identify the life problems or events that contribute to their depression and help them understand which aspects of these problems they may be able to solve or improve.
- Regain a sense of control and pleasure in life.
- Learn emotional coping strategies and problem-solving skills for dealing with depression.
What’s the Difference Between Psychotherapy and Psychology?
While these terms are often interchanged synonymously, they are actually two separate – although related – things. Psychology is an academic discipline that focuses on mental health problems. In fact, many psychologists are strictly scholars, and have never come into contact with actual patients. Psychiatrists, for their part, are people who are trained as doctors but who have gone on to specialize in mental health. They have taken various forensic psychology degree, ethic psychology courses, and have learned about other specialized psychology topics. In general, psychiatrists are more focused on depression medication than any form of talk therapy.
Psychotherapists, on the other hand, do not have to undergo specific training to be identified as such, which means that some may not be sufficiently qualified to offer professional help. In an effort to combat this, however, many states now require anyone labeling themselves as a counselor or psychotherapist be first licensed by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), which grants the title of National Certified Counselor.
In general, however, psychotherapists undergo two to three years of graduate training on counseling techniques. They often specialize in a specific area such as marriage, family or school counseling.
Types of Psychotherapy
Individual: This therapy involves only the patient and the therapist.
Group: Two or more patients may participate in therapy at the same time. This may be effective for patients needing support from others who have had similar feelings and experiences.
Marital/couples: This type of therapy helps spouses and partners understand their loved one’s depression. It also teaches them what types of changes in their communication and behaviors can help alleviate tension, as well as coping strategies for themselves.
Family: Family is a key part of the support system that helps people with depression get better, which is why it is sometimes helpful for family members to understand what their loved one is going through, how they themselves can cope, and what they can do to help. This can be particularly helpful for those experiencing teen depression.
How Effective is Psychotherapy in Treating Depression?
In terms of effectiveness, studies have shown that while psychotherapy may take longer than antidepressant medications to alleviate symptoms of depression, its effects may be longer lasting. And while the risk of depression relapse exists in either case, it appears that the time between the cessation of treatment and the return of depression is lengthened after psychotherapy.
In addition, psychotherapy can be particularly effective in monitoring and managing the risk of suicide. It can also provide an alternative for those experiencing medical conditions, such as pregnancy, which prevents the use of depression medication.