Therapy for Depression Can Be Hugely Helpful

Depression can be overwhelming. The nature of depression’s symptoms, the hopelessness, the feelings of isolation, the lack of self-worth, make it difficult to reach out through depression’s dark space and seek help. It is something different from the normal sadness and grief experienced following a loss. With grief, time can heal the wound, but depression is a deeper, internally produced disorder with physiological roots. It is a medical problem that requires treatment.

Depression is not a character flaw

No amount of will power and determination can lift someone from depression if the pathway out is hidden in darkness. Mental illness is burdened with a stigma that keeps many from asking for help. However, help, both medical and psychological, can shine a light that makes recovery possible. Most people who suffer depression find relief with therapy, medication or a combination of the two. Finding the right therapy is often a process of trial-and-error, but the reward of sticking with a treatment plan is a return to life that once again holds hope and joy.

The physical roots of a mood disorder

According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers have found evidence that depression causes physical changes in the brain. The neurotransmitters that carry messages between cells do not function normally, and this affects mood stability. Hormonal imbalances are also to blame for many depressive symptoms, evidenced by the emotional roller coaster many women find themselves on during and after a pregnancy and when going through menopause. Genetics may also play a role in determining who is at risk for developing depression. The disorder is more common in people who have a blood relative that has suffered depression. This points to the need for a physical evaluation to uncover any underlying medical conditions and risk factors.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – A change in thinking can change the brain

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven to be an effective treatment. CBT works by introducing new ways of thinking and responding to symptoms, which will create new neural pathways in the brain. This approach requires training; just as a Major League pitcher needs a coach to develop his arm, someone suffering depression needs a therapist to provide and monitor a training program. The focus with CBT is the present. Patients do not get into detailed analysis of their personal histories; rather they work on modifying harmful thought patterns.  

Interpersonal psychotherapy considers relationships and life events

Another therapy option is interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), which looks for a connection between depression, the patient’s interpersonal relationships with others and disturbing life events. By identifying a triggering event, the patient, with the support of the therapist, can learn to deal with the event. IPT has been found an effective treatment that helps patients gain a sense of mastery over their moods, defeat the sense of social isolation and find meaning in their lives.

No two people experience depression in the same way; what works for one may not help another. A session with a therapist can reveal a way toward healing. It may involve antidepressant medications and/or therapy sessions, but reaching out for help is the first step anyone suffering depression must take to move on to wellness.