One of the most common and effective treatments for depression is psychotherapy. But what exactly is psychotherapy and how does it help people recover from depression? Psychotherapy involves talking with a licensed therapist who can help you explore and work through troubling emotions, thinking patterns and behaviors that may be contributing to your depression. Psychotherapy may also help you identify healthy ways to cope with problems and feel better about yourself. There are several approaches to psychotherapy that are helpful for depression including cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy and psychodynamic therapy. The type of therapy provided typically depends upon your individual situation and the various factors that appear to be contributing to your depression. Depression sufferers typically fixate on their problems and failures, and may feel responsible for everything that seems wrong in their lives. It's believed that cognitive behavioral therapy may help restructure negative thought and behavior patterns. Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to help depression sufferers identify and understand the feelings that lead to negative thoughts. This may help you think differently, be more objective, and change the way you perceive and react to problems. Interpersonal therapy examines depression in the context of how relationships with family, friends or colleagues may cause or intensify depression symptoms. A conflict with someone close to you may trigger depression, even as a depressed and irritable mood may increase likelihood of conflict with others. The interpersonal therapist will encourage you to identify relationship problems, and guide you in learning new, more effective ways of relating to others by addressing your individual issues and situation. In additional, interpersonal therapy may be used to help resolve depression that's caused by grieving the loss of a loved one or close friend. Another form of psychotherapy is psychodynamic therapy, which is based on exploring unresolved conflicts and trauma that may have occurred early in life forming a basis for understanding long-standing patterns to increase coping skills. In addition to the types of psychotherapy, there are different therapy formats. Family or couples therapy may enable loved ones to better understand and support the depressed person. Group therapy allows people with depression to share experiences and recognize others have similar feelings. Expect to answer a lot of questions at your first visit to the therapist. That's because it's important for your therapist to understand not only your current situation, but your past emotional and physical health as well. Psychotherapy may also involve highly emotional conversations, so it's not uncommon to feel physically exhausted following a therapy session. Your therapist may ask you to do "homework," such as writing down your feelings or other activities in order to prepare for the following session. It's important to complete these exercises because they're designed to help you use what you're learning in therapy. Typically, psychotherapy involves approximately 20 sessions, although some people need longer-term treatment to successfully resolve issues. Regardless of duration, studies show people who participate actively in their therapy sessions often recover more quickly and tend to experience fewer relapses. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please see a mental health professional.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012