Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The sooner treatment begins, the more effective it tends to be.
Depression is usually treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. It's important to note that no two people are affected the same way by depression, which means there's no "one-size-fits-all" treatment. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for a particular individual, at a particular time. At the same time, researchers have found that there are a number of common elements that tend to be effective in decreasing depression, and these elements have been incorporated into most current psychotherapies.
It's always good to have options, and there are several types of psychotherapy that can help people with depression. Examples of evidence-based approaches to treating depression include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients become more aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so they can view challenging situations more accurately and respond to them more effectively. As patients become more aware of their thinking and behavior, they learn to identify how various thoughts and actions affect their mood, which in turn influences thought and behavior. They then learn techniques to change the thoughts that contribute to depression, and to schedule activities that improve mood.
Behavioral Therapy/Behavioral Activation (BT/BA)
Behavioral therapy treats major depressive disorder by teaching patients how their symptoms are affected by certain activities, and offering strategies to build rewarding and meaningful activity into their daily routine. Behavioral activation is a particular version of BT that focuses on the relationship between avoidant behavior and depression.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy integrates traditional CBT with mindfulness-based skills, including meditation, the use of imagery, experiential exercises, and other techniques that help patients observe a particular emotion without necessarily trying to change it. MBCT does not so much seek to modify or eliminate negative or inaccurate thoughts as to become more aware of and disentangle from thoughts and emotions that might otherwise amplify depression.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy is directed at helping people live rich and meaningful lives, even in the presence of unwanted thoughts, emotions, memories, and physical sensations. ACT teaches strategies aimed at undermining unhelpful ways of responding, such as avoidance and inflexible behavior patterns. The goal of ACT is to promote psychological flexibility, or the ability to be open, aware, and engaged in life's experiences, for the purpose of facilitating values-based committed actions.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy is a short-term, focused treatment. By addressing interpersonal issues, IPT for depression puts emphasis on the way symptoms are related to a person's relationships.
Problem-solving therapy aims to improve the patient's ability to cope with stressful life experiences through the development or enhancement of problem-solving skills. As individuals become more effective problem-solvers, they tend to have less stress, greater mental and emotional resources, and fewer problems that negatively impact their functioning.