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Depression Treatments: What are the most effective approaches? 

depression treatmentsDepression treatment in the world of modern psychology continues to grow and develop in a more scientific way but will always be considered somewhat of an art form rather than a strict science. Depression treatments have become more effective at the present time than they have ever been in the past, with current research continuing to define those that are most efficient and effective.  Most clinicians would probably agree that treatments for depression usually fall within one of three main categories, the psychological approaches, sociocultural interventions and the biologically oriented depression treatments. 

Psychological depression treatments: 

Depression treatments such as those employed by Sigmund Freud are familiar to many people who have images of patients lying on a couch and telling clinicians their deepest, darkest secrets.  Sigmund Freudís approach to treatment for depression is referred to as psychodynamic treatment.  Psychodynamic psychotherapy involves interventions which help individuals to explore unconscious grief for real or imagined losses, which may have become compounded by excessive dependency on other people, and are then helped to be made conscious and worked through to resolution.  


Behavioral therapy is another depression treatment which has been used to assist individuals with their depressive episodes. In this approach, therapists try to reintroduce clients to pleasurable events and activities, and appropriately reinforce their depressive and nondepressive behaviors, and help them to improve their social skills.  Studies have shown that adding positive activities to an individualís life can lead to a better mood. 

The most effective psychological depression treatment is cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy involves considering an individualís maladaptive attitudes, illogical thinking and automatic thoughts, and helps them to resolve their thinking in a more adaptive manner and resolving their depressive symptoms.  Cognitive and cognitive-behavior therapy is consistently compared favorably in research studies with depression medications for effectiveness in the treatment of depression. 

Interpersonal depression treatments: 

The sociocultural depression treatments usually include interpersonal psychotherapy and couples therapy.  Interpersonal psychotherapy was developed during the 1980ís by the clinical researchers Gerald Klerman and Myrna Weissman, which held that four interpersonal problem areas may lead to depression and must be addressed: interpersonal loss, interpersonal role dispute, interpersonal role transition and interpersonal deficits.  Some research has found that interpersonal depression treatments may have similar success rates to those of cognitive therapy. 

Couples therapy may also be used for the treatment of depression.  Depression can result from marital discord and recovery from depression is often slower for people who do not receive support from their spouse.  Therapists who offer behavioral marital therapy usually help spouses change harmful marital behavior by teaching them specific communication and problem-solving skills. 

Biological depression treatments: 

The biological depression treatments are familiar to many people in that they usually include antidepressant medications and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) or shock treatments. Antidepressant medications have grown significantly in their level of effectiveness and have an improved side effect profile over the earlier medication treatments.  The earliest antidepressants included tricyclic antidepressants which are now increasingly being replaced by the SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) which include Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.  These medications are reviewed extensively on separate pages of this web site. 

One of the most controversial forms of depression treatment is electroconvulsive therapy or ECT.  These treatments for depression have been around for several decades but have improved significantly over the years in terms of both safety and effectiveness.  These depression treatments will also be reviewed extensively on other pages of this web site. 

Information and webpage by Paul Susic  MA Licensed Psychologist   Ph.D. Candidate  (Health and Geriatric Psychologist 

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