Psychotherapy, sometimes called “talk therapy,” is often the first line of treatment recommended for depression. Called “therapy” for short, the word psychotherapy actually involves a variety of treatment techniques.

During a typical psychotherapy session, someone with depression talks with a licensed mental healthcare professional. The therapist  tries to helps the person identify and work through the various factors that may be causing or triggering the depression.

Sometimes these factors work in concert with heredity or chemical imbalances in the brain to prompt the depressive episode.  During psychotherapy, addressing the psychological and psychosocial aspects of depression are often seen as just as important as treating its medical cause.

Research has found that psychotherapy can help people with depression by doing the following:

  • Understand behaviors, thoughts and emotions that contribute to the depression
  • Identify any problems or events that contribute to depression such as career change, job loss, major illness, death of a friend or family member, or divorce.
  • Regaining a sense of control over life choices
  • Finding a way to engage in things that  bring joy and pleasure
  • Learning coping techniques and problem-solving skills

Approaches to Psychotherapy

Several approaches to psychotherapy, including interpersonal, psychodynamic  can help depressed people to get well. Psychotherapy provides the opportunity to identify the factors that contribute to their depression and to deal effectively with the psychological, behavioral, interpersonal and situational causes.

  • Interpersonal therapy helps people change their behavior with family and friends. It helps you communicate better and improve your self-esteem.
  • Psychodynamic therapy looks at problems that may have started in childhood.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you understand and change incorrect beliefs and negative feelings. Exercises you do at home can help you become more aware of your thoughts and make positive changes.

Outcomes from Treatment With Psychotherapy

Having one episode of depression significantly increases the chances of having another episode. There’s research that shows that ongoing psychotherapy can lessen the chance of future episodes or reduce their intensity. Through therapy, people learn skills to avoid unnecessary suffering from later bouts of depression.

There is still some stigma and subsequent reluctance associated with seeking help for emotional and mental problems, including depression. Unfortunately, feelings of depression often are often seen as a sign of weakness rather than as a signal that something is out of balance. The fact is that people with clinical depression cannot simply feel better spontaneously.

Because depression can seriously impair a person’s ability to function in everyday situations, psychotherapy is an important part of any treatment plan. With therapy, the prospects for recovery for depressed individuals can be very good. By working with a qualified and experienced therapist, people suffering from depression can help regain control of their lives and be happy again.

 Online Therapy and Counseling


Pampallona S, Bollini P, Tibaldi G, Kupelnick B, Munizza C. Combined pharmacotherapy and psychological treatment for depression: a systematic review. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004;61:714–719.

van Schaik DJF, Klijn AFJ, van Hout HPJ, van Marwijk HWJ, Beekman ATF, de Haan M, van Dyck R. Patients’ preferences in the treatment of depressive disorder in primary care. General Hospital Psychiatry. 2004;26:184–189.

Trivedi RB, Nieuwsma JA, Williams JW., Jr Examination of the utility of psychotherapy for patients with treatment resistant depression: A systematic review. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2010;26:643–650.

Cuijpers P, van Straten A, van Schaik A, Andersson G. Psychological treatment of depression in primary care: a meta-analysis. British Journal of General Practice. 2009;59:e51–60.

Cape J, Whittington C, Buszewicz M, Wallace P, Underwood L. Brief psychological therapies for anxiety and depression in primary care: meta-analysis and meta-regression. BMC Med. 2010;8:38.