How Can Mental Health Therapy Help With Depression?
Updated: Apr 14
While everybody has days when they feel down, a low mood that won’t go away, or that is so intense that it interferes with your ability to live your life can be a sign of a bigger problem.
Depression can also go hand in hand with anxiety, which can also contribute to avoidance. This can turn into a cycle where we avoid the things that make our life feel meaningful, and then struggle with a sense of emptiness. Recovery from depression often involves a gradual process of re-engaging with the things that make our lives feel full, in order to get past the “stuck” feeling that often characterizes depression.
Recognizing the Signs of Depression
Depression can impact all parts of our lives, including work, relationships, family life, and self-esteem. People who are depressed often withdraw from relationships and from the activities they once enjoyed. If you are depressed, you may feel too much shame or exhaustion to show up as your full self in your relationships or activities. People living with depression often feel exhausted by getting through the day, and struggle with sleeping too much or too little.
Some symptoms of depression include:
Feeling agitated or restless
Anger or irritability
Sleeping too much or too little
Changes in appetite
Loss of interest in activities you usually like
Loss of interest in sex
An overall inability to feel pleasure or joy
How Depression Can Be Managed
Many people who experience a major depressive disorder or other challenges with low mood feel like nothing will ever change and they will be stuck with this feeling forever. This sense of hopelessness can feel very real, but it is a symptom of depression itself. The truth is that depression is treatable and help is available.
How CBT Therapy Works
There is strong evidence to support the idea that counselling is an effective treatment for depression. One of the most researched types of counselling treatment for depression is cognitive behavioural therapy. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) looks at the relationship between emotions, thoughts, and behaviour, and finds ways to improve mood by making small changes to the thoughts and behaviours that influence it. This often involves taking a close look at your own thoughts to identify unhelpful patterns and core beliefs that may be contributing to low mood. It also involves small behavioural changes, such as engaging in regular self-care, committing to healthy habits, and increasing our level of activity.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the best-researched treatments for depression, and has even been shown to be effective in randomised controlled trials. All of our counsellors at Stillwaters have training in CBT and other modalities, and we work collaboratively with you to determine if CBT or another type of treatment might be the right fit for you.
DBT Therapy Overview
Exploring Therapeutic Approaches for Your Depression
Behavioural therapies have a great evidence base, but aren’t the right fit for everybody. Many clients come to me and say they have tried CBT, and it didn’t feel right. As a therapist, I think an important part of my job is to be responsive to your needs and offer other options. Another effective treatment for depression is narrative therapy.
Narrative therapy involves separating the person from the problem. A common saying in narrative therapy is that “the person isn’t the problem, the problem is the problem.” This is useful for people living with depression, who often blame themselves for their symptoms and live with a lot of shame. They can start to believe that depression is part of who they are. In narrative therapy, the therapist supports the client to examine the stories they tell themselves about who they are and what the world is like. Together, they assess whether those stories are helpful or unhelpful and if there are ways to rewrite those stories that support better mental health and quality of life.
At Stillwaters, all of our counsellors believe deeply in the power of the therapeutic relationship to promote healing. Depression can be a deeply lonely and isolating experience, and one of the ways that counselling can help is to support you to feel truly heard and understood. There are many misconceptions about depression, and you may be feeling misunderstood by friends and family. One of the functions of therapy for depression is to reduce your sense of isolation through a sense of meaningful connection with another person.
In addition to supporting you to learn new skills through cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, or narrative therapy, our counsellors also work from the perspective that when we process difficult events or feelings within the safety of the therapeutic relationship knowing that we are not alone with the painful feeling can relieve some of our distress. Knowing that we are not alone can help us feel safer to feel our feelings, which lets us move through them, rather than getting stuck in them. This process is a bit harder to describe than a skills based therapy like CBT or DBT, but it has a strong evidence base as well. In fact, research has suggested that the best predictor of therapeutic outcomes is the quality of the relationship between a client and therapist.
Your Personalized Healing Journey at Stillwaters
We understand that humans are complex and no two are the same. That’s why we engage in a process of assessment, to really understand you, your history, and the problem you want to discuss in all its complexity. This is essential in order to develop an individualised treatment plan that meets your needs and will address your depression effectively, and to set goals that are meaningful to you.
If you are struggling with symptoms of depression, or just feeling “stuck,” I would love to connect with you and begin a conversation about what treatment options are available. Schedule a free 15 minute consultation with one of our counsellors.