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The Role of Psychologists in Treating Depression

All of us feel sad sometimes. Depression goes beyond that. It is characterized by sadness and despair that continues for an extended time. It affects a person’s day-to-day life and can even manifest as a physical pain. The good news is, there is treatment for depression.

In America, depression, also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses today. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that at least 16 million adults in the country – about 7% of the whole adult population in the U.S. – has dealt with at least one major depressive episode.

What Really Is Depression?

Depression obviously has different effects on people, depending on what they’re struggling with.

However, you can usually find the following symptoms in those who have the disorder:

> Persistent sadness

> Unreasonable guilt and feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness

> Anger and irritability

> Agitation

> Lack of concentration

> Unreasonable fatigue

> Out-of-the-usual sleep patterns

> Considerable changes in appetite

> Constant pain, such as stomachaches, headaches, etc.

> Disinterest in activities that the person once found exciting

> Withdrawal from people

> Thoughts on death or suicide

Depression is caused by a host of life factors – genetic, psychological, social and environmental – that zero in on the individual. A person with a family history of depression and chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, etc., is more likely to have depression than one who doesn’t. Big life changes, stress and trauma usually trigger an episode, although in some cases, it can occur without any palpable cause.

Seeing a Psychologist for Depression
Licensed psychologists are highly trained mental health professionals with experience in helping patients recover from depression.
Licensed psychologists are well-trained and experienced mental health professionals who can help a person recover from depression.

Several approaches to psychotherapy have been identified and proven effective in treating depression, especially in mild to moderate cases.

For one, psychotherapy makes it easier for patients to know what’s causing their depression and what they can do to improve their situation. It also helps them set realistic goals for themselves. It corrects distorted thoughts and unacceptable behavior that bring about feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Very importantly, it educates the patient about symptoms of depression and how an episode can be averted.

Here are the two most common evidence-based therapies for depression being used today:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, patients are taught how to single out and avoid negative thoughts and behaviors that feed their depression. The process also helps patients interact with others more positively.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

In Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), the patient learns how to improve their relationships with people by knowing healthier and more effective ways of self-expression and problem-solving.

At the end of the day, there’s no such things as good therapy or bad therapy. But psychologists can make therapy work, thanks to their expert knowledge and skills in drawing up the most suitable treatment plan for every patient.

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