Depression affects millions of Americans on a daily basis, with around 17 million adults experiencing at least one major depressive episode in the past year. While most of us feel sadness, a sense of desperation, or despair from time to time (situational depression), major or clinical depression is more severe and long-lasting and can interfere with daily functioning. A person with clinical depression may show loss of or limited interest in otherwise pleasurable or daily routine activities, irritability, significant weight loss or gain, and insomnia or a desire for excessive sleep. This depression can last from weeks to months or years if left untreated.
The good news is, depression is highly treatable. Antidepressant medications can offer relief from debilitating thoughts of doom and gloom, lift one’s mood and make it possible for people who otherwise can’t even leave the house or participate in the basic activities of daily living. At this point, talk therapy and psychotherapy can build upon gains made through medication intervention.
Psychotherapy for Clinical Depression
Research has concluded that the most effective regimen for a successful outcome is a combination of medications and psychotherapy. With the guidance and support of a trained mental health therapist, clients can gain an understanding of their relationship with depression and examine and work through any underlying factors that keep them stuck in their depression. During the course of therapy, clients will also learn and, most importantly, practice effective coping skills that can promote healthier brain chemistry.
Psychotherapy has proven effective with short and long-term depression. There are a number of treatment approaches to help restore clients back to fuller functioning. Some of these include but are not limited to, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy.
In my practice, I have found a combination of these two modalities to offer the greatest relief for my clients. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on challenging, reframing, and changing unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that keep people stuck in depression, and the development of coping strategies to effectively deal with life’s challenges. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the more unconscious parts of one’s self that influence current thinking and behavior. This offers a historical accounting of past influences (parental, familial, social) that shaped one’s current view of self and the world.
Finding The Right Therapist to Treat Depression
To the layman, the terms counseling and psychotherapy are often used as one and the same. While there are similarities between the two approaches, counseling is seen as more of short-term therapy with a focus on mild to moderate symptoms of depression, whereas psychotherapy is considered a longer, more in-depth treatment regimen to uncover deeper issues that significantly impact one’s life. Thus, counseling by one’s primary care physician or social worker may lead to an appointment with a psychiatrist to explore medication treatment options, and sessions with a trained mental health practitioner to explore one’s depression on a deeper level. While persons with mild to moderate symptoms of depression can certainly benefit from the more in-depth approach of psychotherapy, those persons struggling with more severe or clinical depression will often require engagement in psychotherapy as a necessity.
You Don’t Have To Go It Alone
Finding the right counselor or therapist involves finding the right fit between your needs and the practitioner’s expertise and personality. For therapy to work, your therapist needs to have the clinical skills, patience, and perseverance to safely guide you towards the exploration of uncomfortable, unwanted thoughts and emotions. As part of their job, the therapist will listen, provide timely feedback and teach healthy coping strategies and behaviors. You will be asked to engage in homework assignments to practice newly acquired skills, with the beginning of each session typically devoted to evaluating your progress and offering feedback for improvement.
At the Counseling Center for Growth and Recovery, we employ licensed clinical social workers in the role of psychotherapists that specialize in treating anxiety disorders, depression, addictions, trauma, along with marriage counseling. We have over 25 years of experience in allowing men, women, and families to recreate their lives under our careful guidance, care, and support. We offer remote therapy and online counseling services no matter where you are, whether it’s from the comfort and safety of home or on the road, in the office, or outside on your tablet.