Depression Therapy

Depression therapy may consist of a variety of different types of treatments for depression including drug therapy, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), hormone therapy, light therapy, and more.

When people think of therapy for depression, they may have vague ideas about meetings with a psychologist. There are actually a variety of therapies for different types of depression, some of which involve a trained counselor, and some of which involve other approaches. Not every treatment is referred to as a therapy (for example, support groups is generally not called a therapy, although they could form part of a treatment plan), and this article reviews some of the main types of depression treatment that are called therapies.

Drug Therapy

There are three main categories of drugs used in therapies for depression that is a unipolar disorder. These include tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The third type, MAOIs, are used primarily for atypical depression, which does not respond well to the first two types of medicines.

Different types of drug therapy are used for forms of bipolar disorder.


Psychotherapy is sometimes called “talk therapy” and involves the treatment of a condition through the use of psychology. Types include cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, interpersonal therapy, and other kinds.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also called cognitive therapy, aims to address present thoughts and behavior and solve issues that turn up in the present by addressing problem-solving strategies to them. It contrasts to therapies that aim primarily at gaining insight into or discovering the past. It has been found to be effective for depression, as well as for other conditions.

Interpersonal Therapy

In contrast to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, interpersonal therapy (IPT) examines the patient’s relationships with family and peers and their self-image, exploring issues in these contexts. The focus in this type of therapy is to gain understanding of the past that is then used to try to achieve desired results in the future.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a medical procedure performed on a patient who has been sedated. It is used in cases in which medications have not been effective and situations in which a patient - perhaps because of drug interaction concerns - cannot take antidepressants, as well as in cases in which a patient has shown psychotic symptoms (hallucinations or delusions) or has been suicidal. During ECT, and electrical current is passed through the brain via electrodes, producing a short seizure.

The positive effects of ECT are not completely understood. It is thought that the burst of electricity may result in a release of neurotransmitters, and/or cause other positive changes in brain chemistry.

Postpartum Depression - Hormone Therapy

Although it is not unusual to use antidepressant therapy with women who experience postpartum depression, it is sometimes undesirable or has unwanted side effects. In a paper published by the Journal of the American Board of Family Practice in 2003, Dr. Dwenda Gjerdingen reported that hormone therapy with estrogen showed positive results and recommended further tests of how benefits compare to antidepressant therapy, as well as studies focusing on safety issues for both mothers and their babies if they are breast feeding.

Seasonal Affective Disorder - Light Therapy

In the 1990s, the bright idea of using white light therapy to help address seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Reports indicate that as of 2008, existing therapies were effective for between 50 and 80 percent of patients. But a lingering issue has been the need to individualize treatment timing and dosage, and some problematic side effects. New efforts focus on calibrating light therapy to individual melatonin rhythms and experimenting with blue light, which may have similar effects with less than the 30 minutes daily exposure time now typically recommended with 10,000 lux of white light. Other explorations are looking at the possible benefits of dawn simulation in which light is turned on before a person wakes with the intensity gradually increased over a period of an hour and a half.


Related Article: Treating Depression >>