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I. What’s it like to get therapy for depression?

It’s normal to feel down from time to time, but when those feelings persist, they can negatively impact your physical and mental health. Depression affects nearly 17 million adults in the U.S. each year. Your depression might lead to difficulty with personal and professional relationships, trigger unhealthy weight gain or loss, and it can even introduce thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

If you experience depressive symptoms that persist for two or more weeks, you might want to consider seeking help from a therapist who specializes in depression therapy. Most people who get therapy for depression report that once their symptoms started to interfere with their ability to function on a daily basis, they realized it was time to seek professional support.

Depression isn’t something you can simply get over — it’s a complex, potentially life-threatening condition that can stem from a variety of causes. Depression is rarely cured with a single treatment method, such as prescription medications. While some people can manage their depression independently, a therapist for depression near you can provide invaluable insights and offer a range of innovative, personalized treatment options that often lead to far better outcomes than their patients could achieve without assistance.

Therapy can help you recognize what’s causing your depression. Therapists who specialize in depression use various safe, noninvasive techniques to help you process thoughts, feelings, and experiences that may be linked to your symptoms. Therapists also explore physiological issues that can trigger depressive symptoms, and psychiatrists may prescribe antidepressant medications for use in conjunction with talk therapy.

II. How to find a depression therapist

For therapy to be effective, you need to feel comfortable with your therapist. Therapy involves a great deal of talking about your thoughts, feelings, and life experiences, and it’s important to find a therapist you can trust.

Think about what your ideal therapist looks like. This might mean choosing a therapist who is the same age as you, or you might feel more comfortable working with someone slightly older. You’ll also want to consider if you’d like to work with a therapist who shares your ethnicity, spiritual values, or gender identity.

As with all types of therapists, those who offer therapy to treat your depression should hold a valid license issued by a trusted regulatory body. Some therapists offer general therapy services that include working with patients with depression, while other professionals opt to focus on one or two conditions such as depression.

In general, therapists charge on a per-session basis, and most therapy sessions last about 50 minutes. The cost of therapy includes the time you spend with your therapist, as well as the time it takes your therapist to maintain your confidential records, make referrals to other professionals, and complete any other tasks related to your care. The cost of depression therapy is covered through many insurance plans, and therapists often offer a sliding-scale payment plan for those who can’t afford the regular therapy rates.

III. What does depression therapy help with?

Therapy is a treatment option for individuals living with mild, moderate, or severe depression. There are several types of depression, including:

  • Major depression: Persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and an overall lack of interest in activities, relationships, and goals, may also involve suicidal thoughts or ideations.
  • Bipolar disorder: Formerly known as manic-depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
  • Persistent depressive disorder: An ongoing feeling of being down that lasts two years or more, and can be accompanied by sleep disturbances, fatigue, and low self-esteem.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: Known as SAD, a seasonal form of depression that coincides with the reduction in natural sunlight during the autumn and winter months.

Therapy can also help with two gender-specific forms of depression triggered by hormonal changes in women:

  • Postpartum depression: Also called perinatal depression, a common form of minor and major depression that occurs during pregnancy and within the 12 months following childbirth.
  • Premenstrual depressive disorder: Known as PMDD, a type of depression that presents between ovulation and the start of monthly menstruation.

IV. How can you prepare for therapy to treat your depression?

You can prepare for your first therapy session by making notes for your therapist. Describe the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, how long you’ve had these symptoms, and anything you’ve noticed that makes your symptoms worse or better. Write down how depression impacts your life and what you hope to achieve by working with a depression therapist near you. Also, be sure to jot down any questions you might have for your therapist.

V. What are therapy treatments that treat depression?

Depression impacts your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health, so depression therapy treatments often involve a personalized mix of talk therapy, self-care tasks, and for some patients, prescription medications. Learn more about the most common depression therapy treatments:

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy works by addressing the negative thoughts linked to depression. It helps you recognize how your thoughts impact your feelings. Your therapist works with you to identify and transform negative thought patterns while developing healthy coping skills.

Group therapy

Group therapy involves working with a small, therapist-run group of people who are also experiencing depression. This type of depression therapy can help reduce feelings of isolation among those dealing with depression and provide participants with a support system that can hold one another accountable to their treatment plans.

Prescription medications

Antidepressant medications are commonly used in conjunction with other depression treatments to help address chemical imbalances in the brain that can trigger depressive symptoms. Antidepressants work by increasing neurotransmitter activity in the brain, and these medications are useful in about 70% of patients living with moderate to severe depression.

VI. What else can help?

Besides seeking professional help from a therapist near you, simple lifestyle changes may provide you with some relief from your symptoms. Consuming a healthy, balanced diet, restricting your use of tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs, getting plenty of exercise, limiting your exposure to stress, and maintaining relationships with supportive friends and family members can promote mental wellness.

VII. Sources

Want more information about depression? Take a look at our sources that include studies on the common signs and symptoms of depression, how depression presents differently in men and women, and the latest research into depression treatments.

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