Psychotherapy (counseling, 'talk therapy') can help people to identify and correct the patterns of thinking, perception and behavior that reinforce depression or anxiety. Skilled therapists such as licensed psychologists can work with depressed individuals to:
- Identify the life problems that contribute to their depression or anxiety,
- Determine negative or distorted thinking patterns that contribute to depressed/anxious feelings,
- Explore learned behaviors that create problems and contribute to depression/anxiety,
- Help people regain a sense of control and pleasure in life.
There are several approaches to psychotherapy including cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal and psychodynamic therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy based on the belief that our thoughts cause how we feel and behave. Negative thinking about self, the future and the world has been learned over a long period of time and produces unpleasant moods, depression and anxiety. CBT helps us to understand the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behavior and than to become aware of our dysfunctional thinking and behavior patterns in order to change them. Once we are able to do that, we could feel better even if the situation does not change.
CBT therapists work with individuals or groups of people by teaching them techniques that correct negative thinking in the process called cognitive restructuring. CBT showed good results and effectiveness in many psychiatric controlled studies not anly with adults, but also with both children and adolescents.
CBT is widely used in the treatment of clinical depression, anxiety, phobias, eating and sleep disorders, self-harm and even the symptoms of schizophrenia, such as delusions and hallucinations.
CBT usually takes 6 - 20 weekly sessions what depends on the type of disorder and the active participation of the patient. This treatment also includes the homework assignments such as reading material or practicing the techniques that are learned.
Some of CBT techniques are: challenging irrational thoughts and replacing them with rational ones, gradual exposure to feared situations or objects, social skills training and relaxation techniques.
CBT can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, depending on the nature of patientís problem. There are also available self-help books and computer-assisted psychotherapy programs based on cognitive behavioral therapy.
According to studies CBT is as effective as antidepressant medication in the short and long term. CBT enhances the effects of medication and protects against relapse once problems are solved and after treatment has ended.
CBT is very powerful in helping people to develop a positive attitude and live self confident life.