Talking therapies

When you have depression, talking to a trained professional (therapist) can help.

What therapy is

You may be put off by the words counselling or psychotherapy. You might believe that this type of treatment is only for people who are mentally ill. But this is not true.

Many different types of people have counselling or psychotherapy to help them cope with emotional or behavioural issues such as:

  • depression
  • phobias
  • shyness
  • severe anxiety
  • eating disorders
  • panic attacks
  • sleeping disorders

Although counselling and psychotherapy are not guaranteed to work for everyone, they can really help some people.

Types of therapists

Your therapist might be a:

  • counsellor
  • psychotherapist
  • psychologist
  • psychiatrist

There are many different types of therapists. Each has its own theory of human development and its own way of working. Some therapists use one type of therapy. Other therapists may combine parts of several different therapies into the way they work. It is very important that you feel comfortable with your counsellor or psychotherapist.

One type of talking therapy may be better for some problems and conditions than others. You might be better suited to some therapies than others. And there may be a particular type of therapy that is best for you and your situation.

Types of therapy

Any of these therapies might help if you have depression.

Counselling

Counselling involves talking to a trained person (counsellor) and exploring problems or issues in a safe and supportive environment.

Talking with a counsellor can help you sort out how you are feeling and find ways of coping.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

The word cognitive describes the mental process that you use to remember, reason, understand, solve problems and make judgements. The word behaviour describes your actions or reactions to something.

CBT aims to help you change how you respond to certain situations or emotions. It helps you understand how your thought patterns may be contributing to your feelings of depression or fear.

This therapy also teaches you how to calm your body and mind. It helps you to control your feelings, think more clearly and generally have a more positive outlook. 

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy usually involves talking to a trained therapist, although sometimes other methods may be used such as music or art. It allows you to look deeper into your problems and worries, and deal with problems such as depression or fear.

There are many different types of psychotherapy. It usually involves talking more about your past to see how it is influencing the way you are responding to the problems you are facing in the present day.

One type of therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, focuses on your relationship with yourself and others. If you are interested in this type of therapy, it may be best to find a therapist who is experienced in working with people with cancer.

Combining anti depressants and therapy

You may have treatment with a combination of anti depressants and counselling or psychotherapy. This combination works well for many patients because the treatments complement each other.

Counselling and psychotherapy help anti depressants to work and have a longer lasting effect. And in turn, anti depressants help you to get the most benefit from psychotherapy.

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