Although a great many people with depression rely on medication as their primary treatment, psychotherapy is often equally effective. The combination of the two offers the best chance of getting better. The problem is to figure out which form of therapy will be most helpful.

There is a bewildering variety of possibilities. Wikipedia lists more than 160 types of psychotherapy, and I’ve read one estimate that puts the figure over 250. Fortunately, most of these make use of similar approaches, such as cognitive therapy, mindfulness meditation, interpersonal dynamics or behavioral therapy, among others.

Increasingly, the emphasis is on highly structured, short-term therapies that focus on immediate changes. Less favored these days are the traditional forms of open-ended “talk” sessions that probe past experience.

Many therapists, however, use a variety of methods to find one that will be most helpful. The relationship with the therapist is one of the most important factors in successful treatment. The posts listed here try to capture both the inner experience and the method of several types of psychotherapy.

How Hypnotherapy Works

The more I learn about hypnosis in therapy the more I have to abandon all the preconceptions I grew up with. Hypnotherapy is not about manipulating people or directing them to do things they wouldn’t normally do, act without the usual inhibitions of social behavior – as in all the theatrical stunts we’ve seen in stage acts and movies. As Michael Yapko summarizes: it used to be hypnosis to, now [...]

How Well-Being Therapy Works

The need for an innovative treatment like Well-Being Therapy hits you hard when you learn a bit about relapse. It happens – a lot. In fact, the majority of people who recover from depression will relapse in the months or perhaps years following the end of symptoms. Medications don’t prevent it, neither does cognitive behavioral therapy, and those are the frontline treatments now in use to maintain recovery. They have [...]

Are You Leaving Anything Out When You Talk about Your Depression?

What are you referring to when you say, I’m depressed? Where do you draw the line between symptoms of depression and everything else that you consider to be just who you are? I ask because this word, “depression” seems to be losing its boundaries, if it ever had any. This isn’t an academic question. I had to get clear about the extent of the illness before I began to make [...]

What Can Help Prevent Depression Relapse?

Depression has an especially cruel season called relapse. It always happens after the worst seems to be over; hope like sunlight is restored; life without depression is in full bloom. Then suddenly it’s winter again. The more often it happened to me, the more impossible the goal of recovery seemed to become. I was surprised to read recently in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression that relapse has received attention from [...]

Reading as a Form of Depression Therapy

Have you ever heard of bibliotherapy? I’m always trying to identify ways to start working on recovery from depression, but I never thought much about one of the first steps I took – reading. I was surprised to learn that reading books for medical treatment dates to World War II, when it proved effective for wounded veterans. Bibliotherapy also seems to be helpful for depression. Even though I first learned [...]

Martin Seligman’s Approach to Cognitive Therapy

Many people with depression believe that nothing good will ever happen for them. The norm is failure and disappointment, the exception is success, and when something good does happen, it doesn’t count. This is just the sort of inner belief and self-talk that cognitive therapy addresses, and one of its leading advocates is Martin Seligman. He explains his version of the cognitive approach, as well as the research behind it, [...]

Why Therapy Can Work: Ideas from Brain Research

Brain research is one of those many scientific fields that I’ll never know much about, but I find it important to get even a limited understanding of the direction of recent findings. It helps me to know, for example, that emotions are generated unconsciously through multiple brain systems before anything gets to awareness. As I wrote in the last post, that opens a different outlook on why it’s so hard [...]

Therapists and Depressed Men

I spent years in therapy, depressed the whole time, perhaps getting a temporary lift, but quickly losing whatever short-term benefit it may have provided. Apparently, this is a common experience for men, and usually the problem is traced back to the difficulty many men have in expressing feeling. They’re not comfortable with emotions, resist therapy and won’t let it work, even if they give it a try. For the most [...]

Meditating through Depression

These are journal excerpts about my fitful beginning work with meditation as a guide through depression. After a day of feeling the chaos of panic, immobilized at work, I went to see JL, first therapist in years. This guy is real. He wasted no time, quickly running through some patterns he observed (explaining that he was hurrying things up because I had been through therapy) and then hit on something [...]

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  1. [...] ideas about how to get started. The posts listed in the sections on Psychiatric Medical Treatment, Psychotherapy and Self-Help describe many specific forms of therapy from the perspective of someone trying to get [...]

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