Therapy That Can Help You Navigate Depression
Each year, therapists help thousands of people with depression find hope, stability, and strength. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide; treatments vary based on how mild, moderate, or severe your depression is.
If you or someone you care about struggles with depression, there are various types of therapy that can provide relief.
Here are three common therapy-based treatments.
1. Cognitive Therapy Addresses Thoughts First
Cognitive therapy is one of the most popular forms of psychotherapy, commonly referred to as “talk therapy.” You may be familiar with the stereotypical portrayal of therapists asking their clients, “And how does that make you feel?” While that’s not the main question a cognitive therapist can ask, it is part of a framework where therapists help people recognize how their thoughts influence their emotions and actions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, like most therapies, is best when done on a regular basis so you can develop trust with your therapist. It often entails detailed sharing of your internal processes. For example, if you are experiencing depression and stuck in a “catastrophizing loop,” your therapist may ask you to talk through that “catastrophizing loop” with them. Afterwards, they may encourage you to label that thought pattern and seek a self-soothing response, such as distracting yourself with an activity you enjoy–rather than continuing on that downward thought spiral.
There may be mindfulness exercises, worksheets, and skills training as well. For example, your therapist may ask you to recognize two thought distortions that popped into your mind throughout the week, and what you did to mitigate their impact on your mood.
2. Behavioral Therapy for Depression May Include “Opposite Action”
As its name suggests, behavioral therapy seeks to interrupt the emotions that certain elicit, and instead, opt for smaller, actionable tasks. The theory behind behavioral therapy is that our actions, like our thoughts, also rewire our brain, as seen by how a 15-minute jog can release powerful, “feel-good” endorphins.
Someone navigating the struggle of major depression may be encouraged by a therapist to take “opposite action” and do the antithetical activity they would normally do when depressed. For example, behavioral therapy may ask someone with depression to “say yes” to that invite from a friend or get out of the house and eat dinner as a picnic in a local park–even though it may be the last thing someone feels like doing. This is because certain activities can help produce calming effects on the brain, and give yourself a break.
As another example, a behavioral therapist may ask someone with depression to write a list of “easiest to most challenging daily tasks” and to pick three that they can accomplish. Perhaps after they accomplish three tasks each day, they also get to reward themselves with an activity or treat they enjoy–this helps people redirect “avoidance behavior” and find a way to celebrate each win.
3. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Encourages Acceptance
Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is similar to cognitive therapy. It differs, however, in its emphasis on radical self-acceptance and increasing the awareness of how suffering exists everywhere in the world.
Therapists with this background may validate their clients who experience depression, and encourage them to accept feeling sad, dejected, etc., rather than pushing the feelings away. By facing the emotions directly, many people experience relief after receiving weekly sessions of dialectical behavioral therapy.
DBT also has the nickname “therapy with homework” as there may be worksheets that help you inquire more deeply into your values, your triggers, and your relationship to depression itself.
Most types of therapy treatments can be done through in-office or online therapy services.
Find the Right Therapist For You
At North American Mental Health Services, we believe that feeling better starts with finding the right person to listen to your experiences.