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Psychotherapy for depression

Psychotherapy, or talking therapy, is a treatment approach for depression, and includes cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling.

What are the benefits of psychotherapy with depression?

There are a number of benefits to be gained from using psychotherapy in treating clinical depression:

  • It can help reduce stress in your life.
  • It can give you a new perspective on problems with family, friends, or colleagues.
  • It can make it easier to stick to your treatment.
  • You can use it to learn how to cope with side effects from depression medication.
  • You learn ways to talk to other people about your condition.
  • It helps identify early signs that your depression is getting worse.

What are the different types of psychotherapy?

There are many different types of therapy. Here are some of the most common.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)focuses on how your own thoughts and behaviours contribute to your depression. Your therapist will help you learn new ways to react to situations and challenge your preconceptions. You and your therapist might come up with concrete goals. You might also get "homework" assignments, like keeping a diary or applying problem-solving techniques in particular situations.
  • Interpersonal therapy focuses on how your relationships with other people play a role in your depression. It focuses on practical issues. You will learn how to recognise unhealthy behaviours and change them.
  • Psychodynamic therapy is a more traditional form of therapy. You and your therapist will explore the roots of your depression. You might focus especially on any traumas of your childhood.
  • Individual counselling is a one-on-one session with a professional therapist with experience in depression and other mood disorders. In those sessions, you will address individual problem areas. The session may include specific help with acceptance of the diagnosis, education about depression, ways to identify the warning signs, and intervention strategies to manage stress and other depression triggers so you can avoid a major episode.


Because life’s stresses can exacerbate a depressive mood episode, one-to-one sessions can help the person with depression identify what these are, as well as increase coping skills and overall resilience. Adequate sleep is especially important in depressive illnesses since poor sleep can precipitate a depressive episode. Working with a therapist, patients can learn to identify barriers to getting the sleep they need. They can also develop healthy patterns of activity and social involvement, thereby influencing their overall quality of life.

Additionally, when needed, therapeutic sessions can focus on compliance with regular clinic appointments, taking prescribed doses of medications, and obtaining blood medication levels.

Family counselling treats the entire family because depression extends far beyond the patient. Family members often have to cope with the patient's low moods during the depression. While family members may have the best of intentions, without professional guidance, they sometimes make things worse.

Families are frequently involved in outpatient therapy as they become educated about the various signs and symptoms of depression and work with the therapist and patient to learn how to recognise early warnings of an impending episode.

Research findings suggest that these sessions may be valuable treatment components, adding significant benefit to medication compliance and lifestyle and sleep management.

Family meetings are also beneficial for helping everyone deal with the stress of an emotional illness. They also allow the patient and family members to openly discuss grievances without placing blame.

Group counselling sessions allow for the sharing of feelings and the development of effective coping strategies. The give-and-take at group sessions is often the most productive way to change the way you think about your illness and improve your ability to cope with life’s challenges and difficulties.

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