According o the American Psychiatric Association, “depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
How is depression treated in therapy?
There are three major modalities or approaches that are used in therapy to treat people who suffer from depression.
One way to approach feelings of depression is through a COGNITIVE BASED THERAPY.
Cognitive Based Therapy otherwise known as CBT, like all versions of cognitive based approaches, focuses on helping the client to become aware of their thoughts and feelings in order to understand how their thoughts influence their feelings in maladaptive or unhelpful ways. The goal of CBT is to change the patterns of thinking and behavior in order to change the way it makes the person feel.
CBT is a short term and goal oriented therapy. Clients can anticipate anywhere between 5 to 6 sessions in order to see progress in their behavior. The success of CBT is apparent when the client is ready and willing to do the challenging work of understanding their thoughts and behaviors in session, and has the ability to follow through with assigned homework between sessions.
Another modality or approach for addressing depression is through HUMANISTIC INTERVENTIONS.
In all humanistic interventions the goal for therapy is to become more self-aware and accepting of self.
Therapy focused in this direction tends to be more creative and pragmatic in the exploration and awareness of self. Humanistic interventions such as Gestalt Therapy, Existential Therapy, and Person-Centered Therapy focus the framework of the therapy session on the direction of the client. Awareness of self and who we are in the different relationships we have stands at the core for personal growth and development. Focus is kept on the present, often referred to as the, “here and now” in order to pay attention to the current emotions that the client is feeling and able to locate within themselves. The role of the therapist is to be genuine, transparent, provide unconditional support and regard as the client receives the support they need in order to understand their own areas of discovery and growth.
Due to the creative and intentionally unstructured nature of the interventions used in humanistic therapy, it is challenging to say how many sessions may be typical for a person to experience relief with the challenges that surround depression. Continual review and dialogue between client and therapist are necessary to fully understand growth and direction of therapy practice.
A third approach to the challenges of depression is to incorporate both cognitive and humanistic interventions to form a holistic approach in supporting the client and their needs.
Known as Integrative Therapy, this approach utilizes techniques and interventions from both cognitive and humanistic schools of practice that best fit the needs of the client.
Integrative Therapy is the primary focus in my work with clients.
I feel the client’s needs are best met when I am able to engage with the client in a genuine relationship that provides unconditional regard and support while also utilizing cognitive interventions that will aid the client into understanding who they are and changing their behavior in ways that allows them to live more fully into their present reality.
Specifically with those clients who are seeking help with the challenges of depression, I find the integrative approach to be the most beneficial as the work that is done between client and therapist can be tailored to the benefit of the client. Session length can vary between 5 or 6 sessions or can be extended to more sessions depending upon the needs and severity of the client’s presenting problems. As with all therapeutic practice, success is mot felt when the client comes to therapy with the belief that growth and change are possible, and carries a true desire to do so.