Counseling & Psychotherapy - Southampton, NJ 08088
Counseling & Psychotherapy - Southampton, NJ 08088
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Information about Treating Depression

The cluster of mood disorders, called “depressive disorders,” is characterized by features such as sadness, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, low motivation and energy, and diminished interest in life. The depressive disorders include major depressive disorder (or “major depression”), dysthymia, and depressive disorder NOS. (Note: The depressive disorders should not be confused with another category of mood disorders, called “bipolar disorders”).

The cause of depressive disorders has long been debated, but thus far we know that there are multiple causes of depression and no one factor is solely responsible. Although there is recognition of a certain predisposition toward depression, the evidence for a significant genetic contribution is weak. A predisposition can be thought of as a kind of physical threshold to develop a particular disorder that is set a little lower for some individuals.

The potential for developing depression is greatly influenced by developmental history, life events, and coping skills. These and multiple other personal/social/environmental factors determine whether depression breaks into the forefront, and whether it does so strongly enough to merit a diagnosis of a depressive disorder.

Treatment for people with depression very often involves addressing more than one problem, as many people with depression present with a variety of other diagnoses and conditions. Therefore, individual treatment often encompasses a number of techniques and treatment packages in addition to the ones described in this section.

Use of Medication for Treating Depression

There are several different types of medications used for depression, including the SSRIs, TCAs, and MAOIs as well as other, newer medications that affect the brain "chemicals" dopamine and norepinephrine. The value of medication is that it can help reduce a person’s depressive symptoms; thus, it can make it easier to implement various psychotherapy principles and approaches. Some drawbacks to a medication-only approach to treatment are that a person’s problems, their thoughts about their problems and the ways that they commonly use to deal with these problems, still exist. Consequently, when the medication is stopped, depressive symptoms most often return. For these reasons, it is best that if you do take medication for depression, you also get therapy.

Use of Psychotherapy for Treating Depression

Just as with medications, there is not one single type of therapy—there are numerous different types. Psychotherapy treatment interventions, just as medical interventions, must have scientific evidence of effectiveness in reducing symptoms. Researchers develop treatment techniques based on their theoretical understanding of the disorder being addressed, but they do not consider the techniques as valid until they have been shown in clinical studies to effectively reduce symptoms. Often researchers will compare the effectiveness of different therapy models and techniques to determine which technique or combination of techniques is most effective.

Research studies conducted at major universities and medical schools throughout the world consistently demonstrate that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective for the treatment of major depression. Furthermore, most people who have CBT maintain their improved mood when tested a year or more after ending therapy. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, the goals are not only to reduce your depressive symptoms but to keep those symptoms from returning. Among the variations of cognitive-behavioral therapy are models that heavily emphasize behavioral interventions, others cognitive, while yet others combine both types of interventions.

Other therapies used in the treatment of depression, often in conjunction with CBT, may include interpersonal and psychodynamic. Interpersonal therapies focus on the client's disturbed personal relationships that both cause and exacerbate depression. Psychodynamic therapies focus on the client's internal conflicts resulting from family-of-origin and/or other past experiences.