Many studies have found that talk therapy, or psychotherapy, can help treat depression. Talk therapy can help you learn about your depression and help you find ways to manage your symptoms.
“Talk therapy can give you the skills to help handle your depression, so for many people it’s a very empowering experience,” says Larry Christensen, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. “This makes it effective over a long period of time.”
If you have mild to moderate depression, talk therapy might be all you need to feel better. But if you have more severe depression, you might benefit from medication in addition to talk therapy. Here are some tips for getting started.
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YOU MIGHT LIKEWhat Type of Talk Therapy Is Best for Depression?There are many different kinds of talk therapy. The two most commonly used for depression are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy. CBT focuses on looking at how negative thought patterns may be affecting your mood. The therapist helps you learn how to make positive changes in your thoughts and behaviors. Interpersonal therapy focuses on how you relate to others and helps you make positive changes in your personal relationships. Both types of therapy can be effective in treating depression.
What Kind of Therapist Should I See for Depression?Various kinds of mental health specialists offer talk therapy:
What to Expect at a Therapy SessionAt your first session, be prepared to tell your therapist about your depression and what led you to seek help. It may be helpful to think about what you’d like to get out of the therapy. For example, are you looking for ways to better deal with personal relationships, or are you hoping to set goals for yourself and make changes? It’s helpful to be as honest as you can with your therapist about your depression and your goals for therapy.
After listening to your situation, the therapist should be able to tell you what type of treatment he recommends and come up with a treatment plan for you. If the therapist thinks you might benefit from medication, he may recommend that you also meet with a psychiatrist or doctor.
When Will I Feel Better From Talk Therapy?You may not feel better right away from talk therapy, but over time, you should start to notice some improvement. You might notice that relationships are getting easier or that your overall mood has improved. Or you might feel better able to understand your feelings or actions.
If you aren’t feeling any better, talk with your therapist. She may be able to try another approach to therapy or refer you for other kinds of treatment. Or you might benefit from seeing someone else. You may need to see more than one therapist to find the type of therapy that’s right for you.
Therapy is not always easy and can sometimes even be painful as you work through difficult problems. But if you stick with it, talk therapy can also be gratifying and rewarding -- and can give you the tools you need to help ease your depression.
WebMD Feature Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on July 06, 2010