Depression Therapy: How Psychotherapy for Depression Works

Therapy for depression usually works well in mild-to-moderate cases. Learn about types of depression therapies, how depression therapy can work for you.

There are several approaches to depression therapy including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Other kinds of talk therapy

Each of the depression therapies can help patients recover. Psychotherapy for depression provides tools for people to use to ascertain the causes of pain and sadness in their lives. There might be psychological, behavioral, interpersonal and situational factors contributing to their depression. If you're not presently in depression therapy, this article on "How to Find A Therapist to Treat Your Depression" should be very helpful.

What Can Depression Therapy Do?

Therapy professionals, like licensed psychologists, can work with depressed patients to:

  • Identify distorted thinking patterns. These may be unreasonably negative thoughts that dominate everyday life. They may also be thoughts that are "black" or "white," where everything is characterized as either "bad" or "good." Therapy for depression helps nurture a more positive outlook on life.
  • Understand everyday circumstances and events that may be contributing to their depression. Depression therapy focuses on how to lessen these contributing factors by taking positive steps to improve the situations.
  • Explore learned behaviors that might contribute to a low mood. For example, therapy for depression can help improve the way people socially interact with each other.
  • Regain a sense of control and pleasure in life. Psychotherapy for depression helps people see choices as well as gradually incorporate enjoyable, fulfilling activities back into their lives.

Therapy for Depression Reduces Future Risk

Having one episode of depression greatly increases the risk of having another episode. Additionally, the more episodes of depression a person has, the more likely future episodes will be more severe. However, there is good news. New research suggests that ongoing depression psychotherapy may lessen the chances of future depression or reduce its intensity. Through depression therapy, people can learn skills to avoid unnecessary suffering from later bouts of depression.

Role of Family and Friends in Depression Therapy

It can be extremely difficult and stressful to live with, or be around, a person with depression. Loved ones feel helpless and often feel a loss for the person the depressed patient used to be. They may even feel angry at the person with depression, even though they are aware it is a mental illness and not something being done on purpose.

This is where family or couple’s depression therapy can help. Left alone, the feelings of helplessness and anger can get worse, but depression psychotherapy can help relieve these tensions. Therapy for depression can increase understanding and awareness of the condition, as well as teach ways to help cope with the depression symptoms. That way, all loved ones can practice healthy coping techniques together and encourage wellness and the continuation of depression therapy.

This participation by family and friends in depression psychotherapy can be critical to its success. Loved ones then become part of the support network for the person with depression and can help them move forward through treatment.

Antidepressants and Depression Therapy

Antidepressant medications can be very helpful for reducing the symptoms of depression in some people, particularly in cases of moderate-to-severe depression. Many healthcare providers treating depression may favor using a combination of depression psychotherapy and medications. Given the possibility of medication side effects, any use of medication requires close monitoring by the prescribing physician.

Antidepressants may also stabilize a person enough to make them more successful at depression therapy. For people who too depressed, psychotherapy may not be useful on its own. By conducting a thorough assessment, a mental health professional can make recommendations about an effective depression treatment plan.

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2022, January 4). Depression Therapy: How Psychotherapy for Depression Works, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Last Updated: January 11, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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