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Depression treatment - Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy or "talk" therapy can be provided as a short-term form of psychological counseling. Psychotherapy usually can be effective in 24 sessions or less.

Psychotherapy alone (without the use of antidepressants) helps about one out of every two people who have mild to moderate depression. It is also used to supplement the effects of antidepressants during moderate to severe depression. In one recent study, taking the antidepressant nefazodone helped 55 percent of people who had long-term depression, psychotherapy helped 52 percent, and combining both treatments helped 85 percent.

There are three types of psychotherapy used to treat people with depression: cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy (these two treatments are often combined), and, finally, interpersonal therapy.

Cognitive therapy

Depressed people typically view life as though they were wearing special glasses that emphasized the worst aspects of everything -- they see the glass as half empty instead of half full. They see themselves as inadequate, their living conditions as unsatisfying and their future as hopeless. Cognitive therapists teach depressed people how to identify their negative thoughts and change them to a more positive outlook, which really is more accurate.

Some common types of distorted thinking:

Perfectionism
If you're not perfect, you must be awful. If you get a B on a test, you think that you're an idiot for not getting an A.

Over-generalization
You fall down trying to learn how to ski and you decide that you'll never, ever, get it right.

Discounting the positive
You finish a difficult project. Your boss congratulates you for doing a great job and you think, "Any idiot could have done just as well."

Magnification
You assume the worst. Your car makes a strange noise and you're sure the engine is shot and it will cost a fortune to fix.

Personalizing the blame
Even when someone else does something wrong you feel that you should be blamed. Your kid gets a lousy report card and you just know it's your fault because you're such a rotten mother.

Arbitrary inference
You think that something is wrong without any evidence. Someone doesn't say hello to you so you assume that the person is mad at you.

Externalization of self-worth
You're a worthwhile human being only if other people say so.

What you can do
"Our lives are shaped by our thoughts, we become what we think," said the Buddha. Modern psychotherapists agree. How we think about our lives influences our feelings and our actions. Dwelling on negative thoughts accentuates feelings of depression and may worsen some of the chemical imbalance in the brain. Adapting a more positive attitude can actually help you to feel better.

Try to notice situations that cause you to feel bad, such as talking with a difficult relative or reliving an unpleasant memory, and then change how you think about these events to reflect a more rational and upbeat attitude. Record your thoughts and feelings (both positive and negative) in the diary. With practice, you'll probably be able to identify a dysfunctional response and quickly adapt a healthier view.

For example, you start thinking about an old boyfriend. You start to think that, because this relationship didn't work out, you are a total failure and no one will ever love you. You feel depressed. A more rational response is to realize that many romances don't last, but you can learn from these experiences to develop a lasting relationship in the future.

Behavioral therapy

As you'd expect from its name, this type of therapy focuses on changing behavior that makes you feel more depressed to healthier behavior. It's used more often for other mental conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and anxiety. However, many people who are depressed have other problems. Anxiety is especially common, affecting about 80 to 90 percent of all people with depression -- 40 percent have such severe anxiety that they're said to have an anxiety disorder.

Here are some behavioral therapy techniques:

Relaxation
Consult a psychiatrist to learn more about relaxation methods like biofeedback, mental imagery, and meditation.

Modeling
To model is to learn from someone else's behavior. For example, you may be worried because you have to introduce yourself to some people you've never met before at a work meeting. Your co-worker seems completely at ease in that situation. You can learn to be more at ease by watching and coping his or her behavior.

Role playing
This method involves practicing a behavior. For example, if you want to ask for a larger salary, you practice asking for a raise with a friend who plays the role of your boss.

Desensitization
This technique uses relaxation exercises to successfully handle an event, like giving a speech before a large group, that causes anxiety.

Interpersonal therapy

Interpersonal behavior focuses on unhealthy relationships that can lead to or worsen depression. During interpersonal therapy, the psychologist focuses on how a person's depression affects his or her relationships with others. For example, a depressed woman is reluctant to express her needs to her family and co-workers. Consequently, they ignore her needs, which in turn worsens her feelings of inadequacy. In interpersonal therapy, she learns to show healthy self-assertion.

Psychological firms that provide supports for Depression treatment - Psychotherapy . . .

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