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Treatment for Depression

Psychotherapy

Psychological treatment of depression (psychotherapy) assists the depressed individual in several ways. First, supportive counseling helps ease the pain of depression, and addresses the feelings of hopelessness that accompany depression.  Second, cognitive therapy changes the pessimistic ideas, unrealistic expectations, and overly critical self-evaluations that create depression and sustain it. Cognitive therapy helps the depressed person recognize which life problems are critical, and which are minor. It also helps him/her to develop positive life goals, and a more positive self-assessment. Third, problem solving therapy changes the areas of the person's life that are creating significant stress, and contributing to the depression. This may require behavioral therapy to develop better coping skills, or Interpersonal therapy, to assist in solving relationship problems.

Unfortunately, many poorly trained counselors never move beyond providing supportive counseling. This alone will not eliminate the depression. As a result, the depression, and the therapy, continues indefinitely, with little improvement. Supportive counseling "feels" helpful, and as part of the overall treatment plan does help. But, unless the depressed person makes critical life changes, the depression will continue. These changes are both internal and external. Internal changes are usually needed in problem assessment, self-evaluation, the evaluation of others, and the expectations the depressed person has for himself/herself, others and about life. External changes may be needed in problem solving skills, stress management, communication skills, life management skills, and the skills needed to develop and sustain relationships. 

The length of treatment will vary, according to the severity of the depression, and the number and kind of life problems that need to be addressed. Most people will begin to experience some relief with 6 to 10 sessions, and approximately 70-80% of those treated notice significant improvement within 20-30 sessions.  Mild depression may be treated in less sessions, and more significant depression may require extended treatment. Treatment sessions are usually scheduled once per week, although they may be scheduled more frequently initially, or if the person is experiencing significant life crises.

More information is available about cognitive therapy: Cognitive Therapy

 


Treatment: Depression and Bipolar Disorder:

More Information About Depression