Depression is a common reason for people seeking help from mental health professionals. Research has shown that there are a number of effective psychological treatments for depression. The most effective psychological treatments for depression are cognitive behavioural therapy, problem-solving therapy, behavioural activation, and interpersonal psychotherapy. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has also been shown to be effective in preventing future depression in those people who have experienced depression before.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of therapy that helps a person to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours which can contribute to depression, and build skills to manage it. It is one of the most effective treatments for depression and can bring about lasting change that can decrease the risk for further depressive episodes.
Problem-solving therapy helps people gain mastery over day-to-day difficulties, stresses and problems which otherwise might seem overwhelming. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression.
It is common for people experiencing depression to feel too down, tired or unmotivated to take part in their usual activities. However the less a person does, the worse they can feel, and this can become a problematic cycle. In behavioural activation, activities and behaviour that can help to improve mood and quality of life are planned for in an ‘activity schedule’. Typically, a mix of activities are selected, including some which the person finds enjoyable and some which give them a sense of satisfaction and achievement. Behavioural activation has been found to improve mood and to be a particularly effective treatment for depression.
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)
IPT involves addressing problems in the person’s relationships and expectations about others that might be contributing to their mood, and has been found to be effective in the treatment of depression. IPT helps people to
- find new ways to develop and nurture relationships
- resolve conflicts with others
- express emotions and communicate more effectively
- adapt to changes in life roles
- improve social support networks.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
MBCT is an 8-week group-based program designed to reduce the risk of depression returning (relapse prevention), by teaching participants mindfulness meditation combined with cognitive-behavioural techniques. Mindfulness meditation helps the person to focus on the present moment without judging these experiences or trying to change them. MBCT has been found to be effective in preventing relapse, and there is some evidence that it may be effective as a treatment of depression as well. MBCT is also being offered as individual rather than group-based therapy however research on the effectiveness of this format is currently limited.
Short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (STPP)
STPP focuses on how a person’s unconscious motivations may lead them to misinterpret situations and experiences, potentially contributing to their depressive symptoms. There are a number of different variations on the STPP model. Recent studies suggest that STPP may be effective in treating depression, however a key limitation is a lack of a definition around this therapeutic model and its key components, which makes researching the effectiveness of STPP and comparing studies, difficult.
Source: Australian Psychological Society (APS) website