Depression Home > Psychotherapy for Depression

When treating depression, two commonly used types of psychotherapy are cognitive/behavioral therapies (which help people change the negative thinking and behavior that often accompany depression) and interpersonal therapies (which focus on the person's disturbed personal relationships that may contribute to the depression). Depending on the severity of the depression, either therapy alone might be effective, or antidepressants may need to be added to the treatment regimen.

An Overview of Depression and Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) is a type of treatment for mental or emotional conditions that uses techniques designed to encourage communication and insight into problems. The goal of psychotherapy is to promote understanding of these conditions, followed by behavioral change -- which ultimately leads to improvement of symptoms and overall mental health.
For example, psychotherapy as part of depression treatment can help a person in day-to-day relationships or in learning to counter the distorted negative thinking that commonly accompanies depression.

Specific Psychotherapy for Depression

Research has proven the effectiveness of a few different types of psychotherapy for depression treatment. Two of these short-term (10 to 20 weeks) psychotherapies include interpersonal and cognitive/behavioral therapies.
Interpersonal therapies focus on the patient's disturbed personal relationships that both cause the depression and make it worse. Cognitive/behavioral therapists help patients change the negative styles of thinking and behavior that are often associated with depression.

What Does the Research Say?

Depression research indicates that mild-to-moderate depression can often be treated successfully with either type of psychotherapy (interpersonal or cognitive/behavioral) alone; however, severe depression appears more likely to respond to a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants. More than 80 percent of people with depression improve when they receive appropriate treatment.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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