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If your depression is making you feel helpless and hopeless, you'd change that by identifying the specific thoughts and beliefs that you have about yourself, the world, and the future that make your hopeless feelings so powerful. You'd also examine the behavior patterns that confirm and justify your beliefs. Then you'd experiment with and practice more helpful thoughts and beliefs, and choose alternative behaviors, until the “depressive system” you’re stuck in begins to break down and your symptoms fade away. This will also help you better manage life events and situations that might otherwise trigger another depressive episode in the future.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy assumes that the most troublesome aspect of the depression is how it affects your relationships with others, which can often lead to increased social isolation and lowered self-esteem. This type of therapy can be especially appropriate for people whose depression may be related to unresolved grief over the loss of a loved one, to conflicts and problems in relationships with significant others, or to difficulties handling transitions or changes in social roles (such as job loss, retirement, empty nest syndrome, or loss of functional capacity due to illness or injury). By focusing on relationships, IPT can help people identify personal needs that are going unmet, find ways to resolve interpersonal problems or end negative relationships, and build the social skills and opportunities needed to develop and maintain supportive relationships. In some cases, IPT make take the form of group, family or marriage counseling, rather than individual therapy.
Brief Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic therapy for depression rests on the idea that the common symptoms of depression often happen when some event in your life triggers “core conflicts” that may have originated earlier in life, and no longer play an active role in conscious memory or thought processes. For example, an individual may experience an unusually persistent and debilitating sadness over the loss of a current relationship, far beyond what could be attributed to “normal” grieving, because that loss has triggered feelings associated with an earlier loss which was not fully “processed.” Or an individual may be overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness or powerlessness that are not appropriate to their adult situation, but may have been appropriate during a similar situation that existed when they were much younger. The aim of psychodynamic therapy would therefore be to help the person make the connection between past and present, and work through the feelings associated with the past so she can face the present without the added burden of this extra “baggage.”