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Two Main Types of Depression Therapy

Counseling from a psychiatrist, psychologist or other specialist can help you cope with clinical depression symptoms.

Medically reviewed in June 2018

Updated on February 1, 2021

If you have major depression (also known as clinical depression, major depressive disorder or MDD), your healthcare provider (HCP) may prescribe an antidepressant to help treat your condition. Adding psychotherapy (or, talk therapy) to your depression treatment plan, meanwhile, can make your treatment even more effective.  

A variety of psychotherapy treatments can help alleviate major depression symptoms by helping you learn smart coping strategies. Psychotherapy may also help prevent a relapse of major depression. 

There are a number of types of psychotherapy your provider may recommend, but two types that may be particularly effective for major depression are: 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Based on the theory that a negative mindset is a key component of major depression, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people reframe negative—and often unrealistic—thought patterns in a more positive light to help counteract depressed feelings and behavior. In short, CBT typically involves working on changing one’s patterns of thinking. 
  • Interpersonal therapy: This type of depression therapy works on the premise that negative experiences in personal relationships can trigger or worsen major depression. It focuses on the link between mood and interpersonal relationships and is particularly helpful in addressing such issues as unresolved grief, interpersonal disputes, poor social skills and social isolation. 

Professionals who offer psychotherapy include psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, child counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists. A person with major depression may work with a psychiatrist (a doctor who may prescribe antidepressant medications) and with a psychologist or other counselor for psychotherapy. Depression therapy can take place in a variety of settings, ranging from private practice offices and clinics to social service agencies and outpatient mental health clinics.

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