Depression often feels helpless. But there are proven ways to heal. We use the best approaches to leave depression behind and find the happiness that you deserve. We believe (and research has shown) that increasing positive experiences and productive connections with others is often necessary in order to overcome depression. We use positive, supportive approaches that are based on decades of research and have been shown to work faster and more often than other approaches.
Effective Treatments for Depression
When choosing a therapy for the problem that you are facing, it is important to understand your choices. But is also important that a qualified psychologist provides a diagnosis and helps you determine the severity of your problem and the appropriate treatment for it. After all, there are a lot of considerations when choosing between the three efficacious treatments that are available for depressed people.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), and Behavioral Activation (BA) have all been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression, and they have all been shown to be superior to supportive, psychodynamic and other therapies. Each treatment has its own advantages, and sometimes, but not usually, a combination of therapy and medication is the best treatment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is generally the best first option, as it does not come with the side effects that are so common with antidepressant medications (erectile dysfunction and decreased sex drive, emotional numbness, weight gain, etc.) and it’s effects tend to be much more long-lasting.
Regardless of the equivalent effectiveness of CBT, Behavior Activation, and Interpersonal Therapy (see below), it should be noted that CBT is superior to IPT in preventing relapse of depression after successful treatment. While Interpersonal Therapy is the treatment of choice for Grief/Bereavement and antidepressant medication may need to be added for severe depression, the effects of CBT are more likely to last after ceasing treatment, which is particularly true when compared to medications. Thus CBT or its cousin Behavioral Activation is almost always recommended as an additional approach when you take antidepressants. We offer all three of these treatments (not medications).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a combination of two distinct but closely related therapies: cognitive therapy and behavior therapy. Cognitive therapy focuses on helping people better understand their thought processes and change them in ways that are not only more accurate, but also more helpful when making decisions and when deciding how to evaluate one’s self, others and the future. You will not be asked to just “cheer up” or “look on the sunny side,” but we will help you come to a more balanced view of life so that when bad things happen, you will be more equipped to cope with them and find solutions instead of just going over those things again and again in your head. Part of this involves testing the accuracy of your thoughts by learning to pay better attention to your thoughts and how well they match what actually happens to you. CBT focuses on thoughts rather than feelings, which leaves some people questioning how it could be useful in changing the negative feelings that characterize depression. But CBT has been shown to be as effective or better than any other treatment available because in many (or most) cases, depressed people think in ways that are self-destructive, such as telling one’s self that things will never get better, that they are a bad person, that nobody loves them, that they will never be successful in life, etc. And making those thoughts more accurate is often very effective in changing those negative emotions. If negative thoughts are not your problem, don’t stop reading yet, because we have a lot more tools on this page that might be more appropriate for you.
The second part of CBT is behavior therapy, which is concerned less with what you think and more with what you do. We will help you to, among other things, better understand what gets in the way of your motivation, to find better ways to reward yourself for positive action, to build connections with others, to better understand what makes you happy, and to get out and do those things. But behavior therapy is also concerned with helping you eat better, get more fulfilling sleep, learn to physically relax and stop hyperventilating (if that is something you do).
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown in many, many studies and over several decades to be superior to most other forms of therapy. Additionally, it has repeatedly been shown to be the best at preventing relapse after successful treatment. There are some instances where CBT is not the treatment of choice, namely grief/bereavement and interpersonal problems (both best treated with Interpersonal Therapy); severe depression (best treated with a combination of antidepressant medication and CBT), and when depressive symptoms primarily involve a lack of motivation (treated with Behavioral Activation). It must be noted that regardless of the specific nature of the problem, all of these treatments are superior to childhood trauma-focused therapies such as Psychodynamic and Psychoanalytic therapy – even in cases where childhood trauma is present – in which case CBT is still superior.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) for Depression
Although we are a cognitive behavioral center, we will use any approach that has been shown to be equal to or better than CBT. Interpersonal Therapy is the only non-CBT-based approach that we use, as it is the only non-CBT-based therapy that has consistently been shown to work.
Interpersonal therapy is based on sound scientific evidence. Research shows that people with depression tend to lack strong social support networks and depression tends to result from specific life events such as the death of a love one, conflict with others, the loss of a job, or a more general problem with making or keeping friends (in other words, social skills deficits).
Interpersonal therapy is much more like what is considered traditional talk therapy. It is not as structured as CBT, but it is time limited, usually 12 to 16 sessions. Interpersonal therapy is designed to help you 1) understand and better use your emotions to guide your behavior and 2) build better relationships with others. Your therapist will ask you to talk about your feelings and how they relate to the way that you act and the way that others treat you, as well as how your feelings affect your happiness. If you have any concerns about therapy, or you are hesitant to seek therapy, please refer to the section below on “what we do not do.”
We believe that it is only appropriate for depression that is caused by the loss of a loved one or interpersonal conflict. This is because while it is specially suited for these problems and likely more appropriate than CBT, it does not include the cognitive and behavioral components that are critical in the treatment of other forms of depression and it is not as good at preventing relapse of depressive symptoms after successful treatment. All of this aside, we believe that it is the treatment of choice for depression caused by bereavement and interpersonal problems for the following reasons.
Bereavement: Interpersonal therapy is at least partially designed to help you understand and cope with your emotions. It is important for many people who are suffering from grief-related depression to process their feelings about the loved one who passed away so that they can come to some form of closure. You will not be asked to just “move on with your life,” unless you want to. Therapy will help you to accept your loss and try to find happiness and connection with others without leaving behind fond memories of the person that you lost, and it will help you find closure in any negative feelings that you have about that person. We advocate the use of IPT instead of CBT in these cases because feelings are a much better target for intervention in cases of bereavement.
Interpersonal problems: Interpersonal therapy is partially designed to train clients in social skills and to help them think through and problem-solve social relationship problems. If you are depressed because you do not have any friends or a significant other, or if you are having a conflict with others, CBT can certainly be an effective solution in many cases, but interpersonal therapy is specifically designed for it.
We do not prescribe medications
Our group includes a psychologist and two counselors. We do not have a psychiatrist (medication doctor) on staff. However, we can diagnose and suggest whether or not you need to see a psychiatrist for medications. In other words, coming to see us should be your first step.