Can Depression Be Successfully Treated?
Pinpoint the life problems that contribute to their depression and help them understand which aspects of those problems they may be able to solve or improve.
A trained therapist can help depressed patients identify options for the future and set realistic goals that enable them to enhance their mental and emotional well-being. Therapists also help individuals identify how they have successfully dealt with similar feelings if they have been depressed in the past.
Identify negative or distorted thinking patterns that contribute to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that accompany depression
For example, depressed individuals may tend to overgeneralize, that is, to think of circumstances in terms of “always” or “never.” They may also take events personally. A trained and competent therapist can help nurture a more positive outlook on life.
Explore other learned thoughts and behaviors that create problems and contribute to depression
For example, therapists can help depressed individuals understand and improve patterns of interacting with other people that contribute to their depression.
Help people regain a sense of control and pleasure in life
Psychotherapy helps people see choices as well as gradually incorporate enjoyable, fulfilling activities back into their lives. Having one episode of depression greatly increases the risk of having another episode. There is some evidence that ongoing psychotherapy may lessen the chance of future episodes or reduce their intensity. Through therapy, people can learn skills to avoid unnecessary suffering from later bouts of depression.
In What Other Ways Do Therapists Help Depressed Individuals and Their Loved Ones?
The support and involvement of family and friends can play a crucial role in helping someone who is depressed. Individuals in the “support system” can help by encouraging a depressed loved one to stick with treatment and practice the coping techniques and problem-solving skills he or she is learning through psychotherapy. Living with a depressed person can be very difficult and stressful on family members and friends. The pain of watching a loved one suffer from depression can bring about feelings of helplessness and loss. Family or marital therapy may be beneficial in bringing together all the individuals affected by depression and helping them learn effective ways to cope together. This type of psychotherapy can also provide a good opportunity for individuals who have never experienced depression themselves to learn more about it and identify constructive ways of supporting a loved one who is suffering from depression.
Are Medications Useful for Treating Depression?
Medications can be very helpful for reducing the symptoms of depression in some people, particularly in cases of moderate to severe depression. Often a combination of psychotherapy and medications is the best course of treatment. However, given the potential side effects, any use of medication requires close monitoring by the physician who prescribes the drugs. Some depressed individuals may prefer psychotherapy to the use of medications, especially if their depression is not severe. By conducting a thorough assessment, a licensed and trained mental health professional can help make recommendations about an effective course of treatment for an individual’s depression.