According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly half of all Americans diagnosed with major depression don’t receive the treatment they require. In other words, more than 7 million Americans suffering from depression aren’t receiving adequate treatment.
As if the above figures aren’t staggering enough, studies conducted by labor organizations have calculated that depression results in more than $19 billion in lost income each year due to sick leave and other work absences alone.
The costs society pays for depression are almost unimaginable, not to mention the emotional costs paid by those individuals who don’t receive the help they need.
Effectively Treating Depression
More often than not, psychotherapy is the preferred treatment for those suffering from severe or recurring depression.
Unlike prescription anti-depressants that only treat the symptoms of depression, psychotherapy allows individuals to identify, isolate, and work through the underlying beliefs and behaviors that cause depression. And, better still, while psychotherapy can take some time to be truly effective, it comes with none of the side effects so common to anti-depressants – side effects that can be worse than the initial depression.
Through depression counseling, licensed mental health professionals help people recognize, understand, and overcome the thoughts and feelings that trigger depression. While difficulty coping with specific problems and events can contribute to depression, underlying beliefs acquired much earlier in life are usually at the root of severe and/or recurring depression.
Depression counseling and therapy not only helps people cope with specific situations, problems, and the symptoms of depression, it helps individuals gain a better understanding of themselves and discover new ways of interacting with the world around them so they feel more empowered and self-confident.
Is One Treatment Approach Better Than Another?
Just as we are all unique individuals, no one form of psychotherapy is equally suited to treating everyone suffering from depression.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy may be best if the depression you’re struggling with is the result of unresolved childhood conflicts. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you change the way you perceive specific circumstances or events and, as a result, change how you feel and react to situations that seem beyond your control.
Every psychotherapist has their preferred treatment approaches, and you and your therapist will have to discuss the treatment options available in order for you to determine the approach that best fits your unique personality and needs.
While many people prefer individual counseling or therapy when working through their depression, individuals suffering from depression can often benefit from group therapy, couples counseling, and family therapy as well.
Group therapy allows people suffering from depression to share their experiences with others who are struggling with the same issues. The realization that one isn’t alone, and the strength that can come from working through problems with the support of peers, can be extremely beneficial in coping with depression.
Alternatively, if you’re in a relationship and have been struggling with depression for some time, it is likely that your relationship has suffered as well. It is not uncommon for couples and families to seek out therapy due to behavioral changes and communication difficulties caused by one partner’s depression. Working together, either in couples counseling or family therapy, can help the partner struggling with depression more effectively cope and overcome the issues they’re facing, as well as strengthen the bonds of his or her relationship.
Much More Than Just A Quick Fix
While antidepressants may offer immediate relief in cases of severe depression and, indeed, may be necessary in some cases, the goal of psychotherapy is to address the root causes of depression and work to bring about positive, lasting change.
Though the benefits of psychotherapy may take longer to realize, effective psychotherapy provides individuals positive, long-term, and life-changing results without the costs, ever-increasing dosages, and side-effects that come with popping pills for the rest of your days.
In fact, when it comes to overcoming depression, there is likely no better investment that an individual or society as a whole can make in our pursuit of happiness!
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