Depression and Talk Therapy

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When you have something on your mind, what is better than having someone to talk to about it?

For those who suffer with depression, having someone to talk to can be the start of the healing process. Talk therapy, more commonly known as psychotherapy, can bring the depressed patient comfort, but can also provide tools to help change the thought and behavior patterns that may contribute to depression.

Psychotherapy can effectively stand alone as treatment, particularly in mild or moderate depression, or can be combined with antidepressant medications.

What Psychotherapy Does

There are many different approaches in psychotherapy. Some focus on the early development of the patient, looking at problems experienced in childhood as a potential “roadmap” to problems currently experienced.

Other forms of therapy are solely focused on looking at current behaviors and seeking to make changes that will lead to better mental health. This might include amending behaviors or belief systems that lead to chronic unhappiness or lack of fulfillment. This type of therapy might require the patient to “do homework”, bringing in logs of activity, or lists of goals.

Sometimes the issues concern family dynamics. In these cases, a family therapist can counsel the family as a group and each member individually, addressing the issues that are causing difficulty.

Group therapy is often used for treating addiction, such as for alcohol, drugs, or overeating, or to address jointly-experienced losses or fears, as when parents who have lost a child, or family members of cancer patients seek counseling together.

Psychotherapy Providers

Psychiatrists are the only physicians who can both prescribe medicine and engage in various forms of psychotherapy. Very often they oversee clinics where they are the prescribing physician.

Psychologists have a PhD or PsyD, and therefore cannot prescribe drugs (although many work under a managing psychiatrist who can handle this.) They also provide psychotherapeutic services, most commonly in a practice setting.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are RNs who are trained and licensed in diagnosing mental illness and prescribing medication for treatment. Some may also engage in psychotherapy as part of their practice. Some may work under the clinical supervision of a psychiatrist for prescribing medications.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) have completed Master’s degrees in social work and have taken thousands of hours of training in psychotherapy.

Marriage and Family Therapists are generally holders of Master’s degrees. They may provide counseling or psychotherapy services, either in an individual or a group setting.

Some Types of Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy aids in understanding unhealthy or negative beliefs, and provides the knowledge to replace these beliefs and behaviors with positive ones.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy analyzes difficulties in interpersonal relationships and develops strategies for overcoming them.

Supportive Psychotherapy addresses coping skills for stress and anxiety.

Psychodynamic Therapy encourages an awareness of unconscious thoughts and behaviors, seeking to understand motivations and develop techniques to reduce conflicts.

Many therapists combine elements of these and other therapeutic techniques in order to personalize their approach and more specifically meet the needs of the patient.

Sources: Psych Central , Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and Mayo Clinic

Image courtesy: flickr


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