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Counseling and psychotherapy are important parts of treatment for depression. You will work with a mental health professional such as a psychologist, licensed professional counselor, clinical social worker, or psychiatrist. Together you will develop an action plan to treat your depression.
When you hear "counseling" or "therapy," you may think of lying on a couch and talking about your childhood. But most of these treatments don't look for hidden memories. They deal with how you think about things and how you act each day.
The first step is finding a therapist you trust and feel comfortable with. The therapist also should have experience treating people who have depression and should be trained in proven therapies. These therapies include:4
Some therapists use acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). In ACT, you work with a therapist to learn to accept your negative feelings but not let them run your life. You learn to make choices and act based on your personal values, not negative feelings.
Mindfulness strategies are another type of therapy. They seek to focus your attention on what is happening at the moment without trying to change it. These strategies teach you to let go of past regrets and not worry about the future. They may help with depression in some people.
Other treatments you may have heard of include problem-solving therapy, which looks at your current problems and helps you solve them, and family therapy, which brings you and your family together to discuss your relationships and depression. Experts don't know how well these therapies work for depression.4 Problem-solving therapy may be especially helpful for older adults.5
How long will you need therapy?
How long your treatment lasts depends on how severe your depression is and how well you respond to treatment. Short-term counseling or therapy usually lasts from 10 to 20 weeks, and you usually see your mental health professional once a week. But you may need to meet with your health professional more often or for a longer time.
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