What Are Some Therapeutic Techniques That Help Depression?

By ReGain Editorial Team|Updated July 12, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Wendy Galyen, LCSW, BC-TMH

Content warning: Please be advised, the information below might mention topics that include prescription medication, abuse of medication, and addiction. The information found in the article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have.

Depression is one of the most common types of mental health disorders in the United States. In fact, over seven percent of American adults are living with depression right now, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). That is about 17 million people in total. Although females are twice as likely to get depression, anyone of any gender, age, or race can experience this potentially debilitating disorder.

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Know When To Get Help

Unfortunately, many people with depression do not get treatment. Because of fear, embarrassment, or denial, thousands of people with depression live with this illness in silence. But depression is one of the most treatable disorders! With treatment, the majority of those with depression have a decrease in symptoms. It is essential to know and understand the symptoms so you can get help if you need it.

Symptoms Of Depression

Depression comes in different types and exists on a spectrum, but the symptoms are all similar, except bipolar disorder, which has both depression symptoms and manic symptoms. Whether you have a major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, or any of the other types, depression symptoms often include:

  • Feelings of sadness that last for more than two weeks
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • Lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • Inability to sleep or sleeping more than usual
  • Chronic fatigue, no matter how much sleep you get
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling hopeless or guilty
  • Trouble making decisions or concentrating
  • Memory lapses
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Thoughts of suicide*

*If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7.

Treatment Can Help

Nobody should ever ignore these symptoms and wait for them to go away. In fact, ignoring the signs of depression can make things worse. Alternatively, if it is a loved one who has these symptoms of depression, you may not know how to handle being in a relationship with them or how to be there for them. If the depression turns out to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, medication can treat it easily. If caused by something else, such as trauma or life circumstances, oftentimes talk therapy is needed.

There are other causes or risks for depression, which include:

  • Gender: Women are twice as likely as men to develop depression.
  • Environmental: Adverse childhood experiences, substance misuse, or financial problems can make a person more likely to develop depression.
  • Drugs: Some types of medication can cause or worsen depression.
  • Genetics: Depression could be built right into your genes, meaning you would have likely developed it eventually no matter what you did.
  • Physical Illness: Certain types of physical problems can cause depression, as well. Some of these include heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Substance Use Disorder: Approximately 30% of those with substance use disorder also have depression.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one can also be a factor for depression.

Talk To Someone

If you or someone you know has any signs of depression or you are concerned about your risk factors, talk to someone. It is best to get help from a professional mental health care provider like those at ReGain.us. Our therapists are trained in therapy and therapeutic techniques for a broad range of mental and emotional disorders and concerns.

Some of the most common treatments for depression are cognitive behavioral therapy, pharmaceutical therapy, psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and existential therapy. Others, such as electroconvulsive therapy and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, are not as common but are used in some cases.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on learning how to change your way of thinking to improve your perspectives and behaviors. This type of therapy is good for depression since it teaches you to focus more on the positive and less on the negative. The reasoning is that those with depression may have negative views of themselves and their life and future. By helping you find and modify your negative views, you can replace them with more positivity.

However, CBT does not just focus on your thoughts. Cognitive-behavioral therapy looks at your thought patterns as well as behaviors that contribute to your depression. Your therapist can help with this through journaling, practicing relaxation techniques, and focusing on goals.

Pharmaceutical Therapy

Another type of therapy that often works well for depression is pharmaceutical therapy or medication therapy. In those whose depression is at least partially caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, medication is sometimes the only way to balance them. Some of the medications that may be used include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramine and nortriptyline.
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors like duloxetine or desvenlafaxine.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, including escitalopram, sertraline, and fluoxetine.

There’s always the risk of side effects with any drug, but some of the most common among antidepressants are nausea, weight gain, constipation, dry mouth, insomnia, fatigue, loss of sexual desire, and blurred vision. Depending on the exact medication and dosage, some of these side effects may persist throughout taking the medication, while others may subside once your body and brain adjust to it. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these or other side effects.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Experts agree that psychotherapy (talk therapy) with a licensed therapist or counselor is essential in treating depression. Just taking a drug and not getting therapy can be helpful, but it will not give you the benefits of doing both. This form of psychotherapy is excellent for depression and many other disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and addiction.

With psychodynamic therapy, it is assumed that some past conflict or incident causes depression. Typically, it is something that happened when you were a child. The goal is to get you to become aware of that past incident so that you can deal with it and work through it safely and healthily.

Interpersonal Therapy

This form of therapy works well for depression because it increases your ability to understand your feelings. Interpersonal therapy has been successful in eliminating or decreasing depressive symptoms in people with all forms of depression. The time-limited treatment usually lasts approximately 13 weeks and consists of looking at your past and present relationships to find patterns that may need to be altered. The therapist will use specific strategies to help change your interpersonal deficits. By focusing on just one or two problems in your life, the therapist can work with you and your loved ones to get you the social support you need.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Another form of therapy for depression is dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). This type of therapy is used for all kinds of mental and emotional issues, including depression. It is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, but it focuses on helping you accept your mental disorder so you can change things in your life.

There are four steps in this type of therapy: individual therapy, group skills training, phone coaching, and consultation. A significant part of this treatment includes your relationships with others, such as your spouse or partner. The therapist can help you build new skills to improve your relationships and gain new self-confidence.

Existential Therapy

Existential therapy focuses on the search for meaning, self-determination, and free will. This type of therapy is an excellent choice for depression because it teaches you to become more aware of yourself and your negative emotions. With existential therapy, your therapist focuses on you instead of your illness, which gives you a better capacity to make healthier choices to reach your maximum potential. The belief is that your conflict comes from the lack of control and acceptance of your existence. For example, those afraid of death would be taught to face that it is inevitable and learn to accept that fact.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

This controversial treatment is typically only used in severe cases of depression that cannot be treated with medication. Those who have tried many different types of therapy with no luck can choose to get electroconvulsive therapy to basically “reset” the brain. It works by giving the brain a small electrical stimulation while the patient is under anesthesia. For this type of therapy, you need a specialized medical team and psychiatrist. It is the side effects that cause controversy. This type of therapy can cause memory loss, cognitive alterations, seizures, headaches, and fatigue.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

This is a newer treatment that is also used to treat depression that is not responding to treatment. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific areas of the brain thought to cause depression. There are fewer side effects and risks with this treatment, but it is a newer therapy that is still in its early stages. The possible side effects include mild headaches, muscle twitches, and temporary pain at the stimulation site.

Alternative Ideas To Help With Depression

While other treatments are available, the above methods are the most common and can be a good starting point for helping you or your loved one heal. Other less common treatments include exercise, meditation, yoga, music therapy, cannabidiol (CBD) supplements, and support groups. Some who live with depression swear by herbal or natural sources such as St. John’s Wort or fish oil. However, you need to check with your doctor before trying any herbal or natural supplements.

Get Help For Depression From A Qualified Professional Online

Professional Help For Depression

Depression can affect all aspects of your life, including your personal relationships, career, and physical health. You may not maintain a relationship or keep a job because of the mood swings, fatigue, and lack of motivation. It is easy to get help with ReGain.us because you do not even have to leave your home to do it. Try online therapy with one of our licensed therapists or counselors who are trained in treating depression. Simply fill out a short questionnaire, and you’ll be matched with a therapist who suits your needs and preferences within 48 hours.

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