Each person experiences depression differently. Therefore, exploring different psychological treatments can help you decide what steps to take. This week we’re providing a brief overview of the best treatments for depression.

Finding the right treatment for depression

A common mood disorder, depression is pervasive within society but remains personal for each and every individual. There are many indicators that a person may be experiencing depression. These can include loss of appetite, sleeplessness or a generally low mood.

Ultimately, it can be characterised as a feeling of apathy rather than a feeling of ‘sadness’. As well as experiencing a low mood, people with depression often find themselves experiencing a sense of emptiness or feeling numb to all emotions. This can damage a person’s self-esteem and leave them feeling demotivated, as well as affecting their personal relationships.

Treating depression isn’t about making everything ‘good’ or ‘happy’. Instead, it’s about lifting the lens of depression. From there, a person can reconnect with the real world – one that isn’t inherently positive or negative.

Medication is often prescribed to treat the immediate symptoms of depression. However, psychotherapy remains the most effective means of treatment. It examines the root causes of depression, a person as a ‘whole’ and how this ‘whole’ can be restored. As such it’s much more helpful and effective as a long-term treatment.

Depression is linked not just with genetics, but through life experiences and behaviours. Therefore, professionals must examine how depression manifests in a person. This is the first step towards finding the right treatment.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

People with depression are bound by negative patterns of thinking. These patterns will continue in spite of any short-term solution or coping mechanism. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) centres around how our thoughts govern our outlook on life, and therefore our actions.

CBT frames negative thoughts as external, intruding on the mind and affecting our perceptions. Identifying and overcoming these thoughts will then help people develop coping skills for depression. Adjusting how people think changes how they feel, their attitude to life and ultimately their choices and actions.

CBT isn’t about delving into somebody’s past to find reasons for depression. Instead, it’s centered upon identifying and eliminating negative thought patterns. The overall goal of CBT is to provide a structured solution to a problem that’s impacting a person’s mental well-being and life as a whole.

What’s important to remember with CBT is that it’s a short-term and fast-paced treatment. CBT can bring both immediate and long-term results but if a person feels that they have deep-seated psychological issues, there are likely to be more effective methods of treatment available. Enter Existential and Psychoanalytic Therapy…

Existential therapy

It’s natural for people to seek purpose in their day to day lives. People with depression will struggle to find ‘meaning’ and some feel ‘lost’ in their day-to-day lives. This means they’re often unable to form long or short-term goals. It’s this search for meaning that defines the concept of ‘existentialism’.

Existential thought is about realising that there’s no innate meaning to our lives. (Bear with us, it’s a really positive approach to life, we promise.) Instead, people can create their own meaning, based on their individual values and free will.

The goal of existential therapy is to come to terms with depression as a part of human life. People can then realise that depression doesn’t define their lives, or obstruct their path towards meaning. In comparison to CBT, which helps people cope with depression, existential therapy helps people understand and ultimately move on from feelings of depression. Existential Therapy helps sufferers of depression to – to an extent – accept their depression and in doing so they usually find it easier to get better and back to normal.

Psychoanalytic therapy

When a person is suffering from a mood disorder such as depression, they’re often unable to remember how they used to feel before. People with long-term or severe depression feel ‘defined’ by their low emotional state. In these types of cases, people often have experienced particular circumstances early in life which impacted how they see themselves, others and the world.

Psychoanalytic therapy helps people with depression to reconnect with their sense of self. A person will learn to understand the nature of their depression, as well as potential causes. This new deep understanding will empower them to gain control of their life, and subsequently, develop a personal path out of depression.

For people who have suffered from depressive episodes for a very long time, psychoanalytic therapy can be helpful for identifying the underlying causes of their depression. It’s common for these to be subconscious but a therapist can help you to identify these. Psychoanalytic therapy involves extensive periods of self-reflection. A psychotherapist will use their knowledge and experience to help people find clarity in their thought patterns and behaviours and any underlying triggers of these.

Psychoanalytic therapy differs from CBT and existential therapy. As discussed previously, CBT helps develop coping skills and existential therapy helps people understand depression. In comparison, psychoanalytic therapy is centred around a person understanding exactly who they are, so they can begin to grow and build a life without depression.

At Psytherapy we specialise in treatment for depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. We offer a variety of treatments and can help you find the best course of action for depression. If you think you or someone you’re close to may need treatment for depression, get in touch today for confidential guidance.