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What are the Different Types of Psychotherapy for Depression?

By Thomma Grindstaff
Updated May 17, 2024
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Different types of psychotherapy for depression, also known as talk therapy, include cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. Other types of psychotherapies for depression are psychodynamic therapy and interpersonal therapy. These treatments for depression are done by mental health professionals in clinical settings. When utilized on their own, psychotherapy methods are often helpful in treating depression, but they are thought to be most beneficial when combined with medication that addresses the underlying physical causes of clinical depression.

In cognitive therapy for depression, the therapist helps the patient identify faulty and negative thought patterns that exacerbate depression. These thought patterns include cognitive habits such as minimizing positive life events while maximizing the negative ones, jumping to negative conclusions without corroborating evidence, and being driven by emotions to the point where one neglects to take facts into account. In cognitive therapy, mental health professionals work to help depressed patients replace such faulty thought patterns with positive, constructive ones.

Another type of psychotherapy for depression is behavioral therapy. Its focus is to help patients better control their behavior and their responses to events or emotions. Behavioral therapy is rooted in the idea that human behavior is largely a result of perceived reward or punishment. It is sometimes used with cognitive therapy to treat depression, and the combination of the two therapies is known as cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Psychodynamic depression occurs when patients repress anger toward their parents or other caretakers from their childhoods. The therapy often used for this type of depression is called psychodynamic therapy. It focuses on helping depressed patients understand and cope with their painful feelings from childhood by discussing the events and experiences that gave rise to those feelings.

Interpersonal therapy is a psychotherapy for depression that focuses on specific circumstances or situations in the life of a depressed patient. The mental health professional seeks to help the patient improve relations with other people in his or her life, whether at home or at work. An important part of interpersonal therapy is helping a patient learn to cope with life transitions such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a divorce.

Psychotherapy for depression is sometimes used to help patients whose depression is resistant to medication. In each type of psychotherapy, the depressed patient learns new and more productive ways to behave and to think about their lives. Psychotherapy for depression, when used in combination with medication, is also believed to be an effective way to help patients understand the importance of taking their medicines regularly.

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