Talking Therapies For Depression

Depression is the most common mental health disorder, and it is affecting an increasing number of people. At present, one in ten people will seek help for it at some point in their lifetime, but it is believed that the true number of people with depression may be much higher as many are reluctant to discuss it with their doctor. Often this is because sufferers do not like the idea of being prescribed antidepressants, but the truth is that talking therapies are often the first course of treatment.

Talking therapies are typically recommended for mild to moderate depression, and a doctor will only go on to prescribe drugs if the counselling proves ineffective. Treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy are also commonly prescribed for severe depression, in combination with antidepressants. This is because many clinical trials have proven that the relapse rate is significantly lower in patients that have both forms of treatment. There are several types of talking therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

In CBT, the therapist will help the patient understand how their thoughts and behavior are affecting them. Although past experiences will be discussed, as this can shape how a person thinks and feels about themselves, the key focus is on how to change thought patterns. Coping strategies will be developed, so that depressive and anxious thoughts become less frequent.

Usually CBT is conducted over six to eight sessions, running over a period of around three months. Often, the therapy is conducted in a one to one setting, but people with milder depression may be offered group therapy instead. CBT has been shown to have the highest rate for successful treatment of depression.

Online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Online CBT courses are becoming more common. The patient will be able to access weekly online course material, rather than having face to face sessions with a therapist. This should always be done with the recommendation of a doctor, and is most effective in those whose depressive symptoms are mild.


A counselor will discuss your problems and previous life experiences with you, in order to develop strategies for dealing with them. The counselor does not actually give advice, but will ask leading questions so that the patient is able to devise solutions themselves.

There are not a set number of counselling sessions which are needed to overcome depression. It is entirely dependent on the individual, and whether their depression is resulting from a life event. However, six to twelve sessions is about average.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy is relatively new when it comes to treating depression, but early indicators are that it is effective as CBT. The focus of IPT is on the relationships of the sufferer with other people. IPT may be recommended in the case of bereavement, or if the patient has difficulties with communication.

If you believe that you may have depression, it is advisable to seek help from your family doctor. However, if you feel that you would benefit from a talking therapy, some counselors do allow self referrals.

You can learn so much more in our online guide here What is Depression? and also get our free book download about how to help improve your mental health and wellbeing.

We wish you well in your search for solutions and your movement towards better health in all areas.

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