Exploring Different Therapy Approaches for Depression

client listen to anonymous psychologist

Dealing with depression can be an intricate journey, one that may require exploring various therapy approaches to find what works best for each individual. It’s essential to understand the different therapy methods available and how they can aid in managing and overcoming depression effectively.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Navigating the array of therapy approaches for depression can be overwhelming, but each method offers unique strategies to support individuals in their journey toward mental well-being. One of the strategies for therapy Seattle is CBT. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a structured psychological treatment that can be highly effective for people with depression. It teaches individuals to identify and change negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

CBT focuses on teaching patients that their thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations are connected. It shows them how to recognize unhelpful thinking patterns, such as rumination, catastrophizing, and excessive self-blame. It also teaches them to use more positive ways of coping.

The therapist will typically utilize various techniques, including exposure and desensitization. These strategies help to reduce avoidance behaviors, which can be common in people with depression and anxiety disorders. Research has shown that CBT can be just as effective as antidepressants in treating depressive symptoms. It has the added benefit of providing a sense of empowerment and independence. 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT is an evidence-based approach that can be effective in treating depression. It focuses on developing and expanding psychological flexibility, including emotional openness, acceptance, and cognitive defusion (learning to distance yourself from the negative content of your thoughts).

The goal of ACT is not to reduce your symptoms but to increase your engagement in life. During ACT sessions, your therapist will encourage you to identify and explore your core values. Then, they will help you commit to behaviors that align with those values.

For example, if you were depressed and ruminating on your problems at work, an ACT therapist would instruct you to go for a walk and focus on the physical sensations you experience. This will help you distance yourself from your rumination and activate your body, borrowing an ACT term for experiential avoidance strategies. This type of exercise can also promote a sense of well-being. 

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Like CBT, IPT is one of the therapy approaches which recognizes that depression is not always a personal “fault” but can be caused by challenges people face in their relationships. The first phase of IPT lasts about three sessions. It focuses on getting detailed information from the patient about their significant relationships and social functioning in the past and present. They are then asked to identify one of four IP problem areas: role transition, conflict, grief, or interpersonal deficits. The therapist then helps the client prioritize one of these problem areas to focus their efforts on. They are assisted in assessing the relative impact of each of their problems on depression symptoms and in developing coping strategies. Each session starts with a discussion of how the person has been coping since their last appointment. This orients the therapy to the here-and-now and reduces anxiety about the duration of treatment. The therapist also promotes hope that the disorder is a medical condition and that it can be treated.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a cognitive behavioral therapy that was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, research shows it also helps people with other mental health conditions, including depression.

In DBT, therapists help you learn skills to manage emotions and improve your quality of life. These skills include mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. DBT also includes a practice called dialectical action, where you try to balance acceptance and change.

These skills can help you learn to stop engaging in behaviors that are harmful to your mental and physical well-being, like self-harm and suicidal thoughts or actions. During DBT, your therapist may teach you strategies to replace those behaviors with healthy, alternative ones. You will attend group and individual therapy sessions once a week during treatment. These sessions focus on learning new DBT skills and addressing any issues that interfere with your ability to get better, like suicidal thoughts or behavior, substance abuse, or other barriers to quality of life.