Depression is one of the most common and serious mood disorders, affecting more than 17 million adults each year in the United States. Depression can affect anyone at any age. Although, it typically starts in adulthood and leads to a wide variety of negative symptoms, including feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness.
The feelings and symptoms of depression can make it hard to get through the day. In some cases, they can make it seem impossible to get out of bed merely. These feelings compounded with a loss of interest in things you once enjoyed make it incredibly challenging to lead a fulfilling life.
Can Depression Counseling Help?
For those seeking effective treatment for these difficult symptoms, depression counseling is a form of therapy used to help people suffering. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about counseling that need to be dispelled, first. It can be extremely beneficial for those struggling to cope and live happier lives.
Depression can affect how a person feels, thinks, and interacts with others. That is, it interferes with their ability to get through day-to-day life. For this reason, it’s important to have depression counseling options available, and the good news is that depressive disorders are highly treatable.
Who is Depression Counseling For?
Depression counseling – whether on its own or in combination with medication – can help treat a wide variety of depressive disorders, including:
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) or “Clinical Depression”
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Postpartum depression (PPD)
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Atypical Depression
Symptoms of Depression
The symptoms of depression may vary from person to person and can change over time. However, people experience some common symptoms when they’re depressed. These may include:
- Feeling empty or sad most of the time
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite (usually a decrease in appetite) or weight
- Feeling tired or sluggish most days of the week
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt, and helplessness.
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Trouble sleeping (too much or too little)
- Thoughts of death or suicide (suicidal ideation), including attempts at suicide
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, depression counseling may help. Remember that it is not your fault, and there is no shame in seeking treatment. You deserve to feel better and enjoy life again.
Depression Counseling: What to Expect
First off, a depression diagnosis requires an evaluation either by a mental health professional or physician. Generally speaking, a clinical depression diagnosis means symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the therapist and patient will come up with a treatment plan. This may include medication, therapy, or both. With mild to moderate depression, talk therapy is typically the first recommended route before trying medication. However, antidepressants are sometimes needed if the depression is more severe.
The therapist will likely ask about your symptoms, family history, and lifestyle habits. They’ll also want to know how depression has affected your life. Depression counseling is an opportunity to identify the cause of these feelings and learn new coping strategies, taking a positive step toward recovery.
The best depression counseling options will depend on the severity of symptoms, personal preferences, and unique characteristics of each case. This difficult mood disorder is different for everyone – even those with similar experiences – so it’s important to find a therapist to provide the specific care you need.
Depression Therapy vs. Depression Counseling
While “counseling” and “psychotherapy” (or talk therapy) are words often used interchangeably, it helps to know the difference. Whereas psychotherapy is typically a more long-term approach, depression counseling is typically a short-term therapy for mild or moderate symptoms.
That said, in a depression counseling session, your counselor or therapist will still employ talk therapy to help you understand work through the problematic issues affecting your life. Their overall role is to listen, give feedback, and work with you to find effective coping ways.
A counselor or therapist will start by helping you understand and deal with the underlying causes of your sadness. Developing coping skills to address that sadness and other symptoms is also part of the first step toward feeling better. You can also rely on your counselor or therapist to track your progress and adjust sessions as necessary.
In terms of efforts outside of your sessions, you may be asked to do things intended to supplement your progress. This could include reading, trying a technique, or tracking your feelings and moods.
Types of Depression Counseling
One of the most common and effective approaches used in depression counseling sessions is CBT or cognitive-behavioral therapy. Understanding one’s depression and treating it requires a close look at their present feelings and thoughts.
By incorporating CBT, counselors can help their patients identify and change the negative thought processes behind their symptoms and behaviors that may be making them worse.
Furthermore, CBT is considered a relatively short-term, goal-focused therapy approach. Given that depression counseling is ideal for more mild depression cases, compared to long-term talk therapy, CBT works well for depression counseling.
Similarly, interpersonal therapy or IPT, which focuses on interpersonal conflict, is another helpful approach to depression counseling. This therapy type is based on the idea that our relationships with other people strongly influence our mental health. IPT helps patients resolve problems in their relationships, improving overall mental health.
Also considered a short-term method, IPT helps individuals address the worsening symptoms, such as lack of social support.
How Depression Counseling Can Help
Depression counseling can help by providing support, education, and guidance to those struggling with this condition.
Therapy is a safe space for people to explore the feelings and experiences causing depression. The therapist can offer a fresh perspective and help patients understand why they feel the way they do while suggesting techniques to cope with depression in healthy ways.
Depression counseling also provides an environment where people can practice new behaviors and skills that will be useful when dealing with depression on their own. For example, depression counseling may help someone learn how to challenge negative thoughts, set realistic goals, and problem-solve.
In some cases, depression counseling may also involve family therapy. This can benefit both the person with depression and their loved ones, who may feel overwhelmed or helpless. Family therapy can provide support and education for those close to depression, helping them learn how to help their loved ones.
Depression Counseling: How Long Does it Take?
Like depression itself, depression counseling is different for everyone, and treatment length will vary from person to person. For some, depression counseling may last a few months; for others, treatment can continue for years. The length of depression counseling also depends on the severity of a person’s depression and their goals for treatment.
Depression counseling is a vital service that can help those suffering from depression get their lives back on track. Depression can be incredibly debilitating, but with the help of a qualified counselor or therapist, it is possible to overcome and live a happy and productive life.
Final Thoughts on Depression Counseling
If you’re seeking relief from depression symptoms or feeling lost, depression counseling is often a good place to start.
With the help of depression counseling or psychotherapy, you can develop healthy coping mechanisms and work through the issues contributing to your depression. There is always hope, and depression counseling can help, so don’t hesitate to reach out.