Therapy for Depression

Everyone experiences sadness at times.  But depression is something more than sadness.  Depression is profound unhappiness, sorrow, and/or despair. It interferes with activities of daily life, can negatively impact relationships, and can even cause physical pain. Fortunately, depression is highly treatable.

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, impacting approximately 6.7 percent of all U.S. adults at some point in their life.

Symptoms of Depression: 

  • Prolonged sadness or feelings of emptiness.
  • Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness.
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
  • Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
  • Anger and irritability.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)
  • Appetite changes (loss of appetite or overeating).
  • Chronic pain, headaches or stomachaches.
  • Loss of interest in activities that one used to enjoy.
  • Withdrawal/isolation from friends and family.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

Treatments:

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy (aka: "talk therapy") can be helpful for individuals with depression by encouraging individuals to challenge pre-existing narratives, providing coping tools (e.g., how to navigate difficult feelings), teaching interpersonal effectiveness, and problem solving and changing behavior patterns that may contribute to one's symptoms.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is a type of psychotherapy that teaches individuals different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to depressed thoughts.  CBT for depression has two main components: cognitive restructuring and behavioral activation.  Cognitive restructuring helps the individual learn how to identify, challenge, and neutralize unhelpful/maladaptive thoughts.  Behavioral activation helps the individual learn to overcome obstacles to participating in enjoyable activities. 

Mindfulness: Research supports the use of mindfulness for the treatment of depression.  Focusing on the here and now helps individuals become aware of their negative thoughts, acknowledge them without judgment, and realize that these thoughts are not accurate reflections of reality.

Medications: Medications can often relieve symptoms of depression.  Medications are especially helpful in conjunction with psychotherapy.