Depression and therapy: helping those struggling with depression individuals to feel better through counselling. 

Stressful life events, brain chemistry, family history or genetics, chronic illnesses, and some medications can lead to depression, a common mental health condition. The most common symptom is an overall feeling of sadness or low mood. For many, symptoms can be so pervasive that they impact the way one eats, sleeps, thinks, and behaves. The good news? Depression is often treatable with talk therapy or psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. 

Experiencing Depression

Everyone can feel sadness sometimes related to the ups and downs of life. With depression, sadness is so pervasive that it can cause a loss of interest in the activities individuals once enjoyed.  If this persists over the course of weeks or months, this may indicate a struggle with depression. 

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions and can affect anyone including adults, children, or seniors. Those assigned female at birth or women are more likely to be affected by depression than men or those assigned male. The Government of Canada reports that “About 11% of men and 16% of women in Canada will experience major depression in the course of their lives. Depression can limit your quality of life, affect relationships, lead to lost time from work or school, and contribute to other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases.”

.Treatment for depression is important, as left untreated, it can lead to severe symptoms including self-harming behaviours or death by suicide. 

How Depressive Disorders Can Affect You

Ongoing feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and a low mood are often the most noticeable symptoms. There are many other symptoms and signs of depression as well.

Signs of depression might include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Withdrawal from family or friends
  • Having Low energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping: going to sleep, staying asleep, waking up too early, or sleeping too much
  • Changes in weight or appetite such as eating less or more, or different foods than you would normally consume.
  • Irritability
  • Crying easily
  • Problems with memory, concentration, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of self-harm, death, or suicide
  • Physical discomforts such as headaches, muscle pain, stomachache, or sexual dysfunction

Depression and Therapy: Treatment for Depressive Disorders

Depression is a treatable mood disorder. It is often treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. The types of psychotherapy can vary depending on the individual, the context of the symptoms, and other issues the individual is experiencing.

There are many therapies that are effective for depression, these include cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance, and commitment therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, IFS therapy, and dialectical behavioural therapy.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Depression

Cognitive Behavioural therapy for depression blends cognitive therapy (moods and thoughts) and behavioural therapy (actions and behaviours) to help modify thought patterns to improve moods and behaviours.

You work with a therapist to guide you and identify negative thought patterns and then alter the behavioural response. Through this work, you develop more constructive and balanced ways to respond to stressors in your life. This can be practiced outside of the therapist’s office as you become aware of your negative thoughts and patterns and adjust your way of thinking of, or framing the situation.

Working through these stressors and patterns can help to improve your overall outlook in life. CBT for depression has proven to be an effective treatment.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Depression

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a powerful approach for managing and overcoming depression. ACT focuses on the acceptance of difficult emotions and thoughts rather than attempting to eliminate them. Individuals learn to observe and make space for their feelings, fostering emotional flexibility. This acceptance creates a valuable shift, allowing individuals to detach from the grip of depression and regain control over their lives.

The “Commitment” aspect of ACT involves setting and pursuing meaningful life goals aligned with one’s values, even when experiencing depression. By committing to actions that resonate with their core values, individuals can gradually build a life that is more fulfilling and in harmony with their authentic selves. ACT empowers individuals to live a life that transcends depression and embraces emotional well-being.

Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing Therapy for Depression

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, originally developed to treat trauma, is also a beneficial treatment for depression. EMDR combines elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy and bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or tactile taps, to process distressing memories and negative emotions.

In the context of depression, EMDR aims to uncover and reprocess underlying memories or experiences that contribute to depressive symptoms. By addressing and transforming these memories, individuals can reduce the emotional distress and distorted beliefs that often fuel depression. EMDR can help individuals gain a fresh perspective on past events, alleviate emotional burdens, and lead to a more positive outlook, contributing to a path toward recovery from depression.

 IFS therapy for Depression

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a unique and innovative approach to healing, offers a valuable perspective in the treatment of depression. IFS views the mind as a complex system with distinct “parts” or subpersonalities, each with its own thoughts, emotions, and functions. In the context of depression, these “parts” often contribute to the experience of sadness, hopelessness, and self-criticism.

IFS therapy helps individuals explore and understand these inner parts, facilitating a compassionate and collaborative relationship with them. By acknowledging and addressing the conflicting parts within, individuals can alleviate depressive symptoms, find a sense of self-compassion, and work towards emotional integration and balance. IFS provides a unique path to healing and recovery by harmonizing the internal conflicts that often fuel depression. Studies have found that IFS can alleviate depression symptoms.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy For Depression

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), originally developed for individuals with borderline personality disorder, has proven highly effective in treating depression as well. DBT’s core principles include mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

In the context of depression, DBT helps individuals develop essential skills to manage negative emotions, enhance self-awareness, and build healthier relationships. By focusing on acceptance and change simultaneously, DBT encourages individuals to embrace their emotions while also developing strategies to improve their mood. With its holistic approach, DBT equips individuals with the tools to break free from depressive patterns and regain control over their emotional well-being.

How Psychotherapy and Talk Therapies can help:

For many individuals, talking with a mental health professional can be helpful in addressing issues causing their mood disorder. These can help by:

  • Identifying negative beliefs and behaviours and replacing them with more positive ones
  • Discussion on how relationships in your life can impact you and how to work towards healthier interactions in interpersonal relationships
  • Explore a current crisis or difficulty in your life and how to improve it
  • Find ways to solve problems and better cope with new challenges
  • Identify the issues that are leading to your depression and discuss strategies to make it better
  • Set goals and targets and develop the necessary steps to achieve them

Treating depressive disorders through talk therapy has been found to be effective in treating adults, adolescents, and children. 

At Home and Other Ways You Can Treat Depression

There are complementary therapies that can help with depression including acupuncture, massage, and mindfulness techniques. At home you can make sure you are:

  • Offering yourself the time for rest
  • Eating 
  • Connecting with your body
  • Avoiding alcohol and depressant substances
  • Spending time with people you care about and who make you feel supported 

Other Types of Depression

Major depressive disorder or clinical depression is often the general term used to describe feeling sad or low for a period of at least two weeks. It can be a severe form of depression and often one of the most common ones. There are other more specific forms that can affect people.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) or Dysthymia

This mild or moderate form of depression can last for up to two years. Symptoms can be less severe than major depressive disorder.

Chronic Health Conditions Can Lead to Depression

Heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and other medical conditions can create changes in your body that lead to mood disorders. Depression will generally clear up with the treatment of the underlying medical condition. 

Medications that Can Lead to Depression as a Side-Effect

Corticosteroids, birth control and hormonal drugs, opioids, beta-blockers, acne medications, allergy medications, and other drugs can cause or worsen depressive symptoms.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or Seasonal Depression

This is a mood disorder that generally sees the onset during the fall and winter and goes away in the spring and summer.

Prenatal or Postpartum Depression

Prenatal depression happens during pregnancy and postpartum can develop around 4 weeks after having a baby. 

Virtual Therapy for Major Depression

We offer online therapy throughout Ontario. If you’re interested in booking a session with us to talk about any of the above, you can contact our office or book online.

Booking with a Depression Therapist in Toronto or London, ON

You can also book with a depression therapist specialist at either our Toronto or London, ON clinics. Taking the first step to get help can often be difficult. We know how hard it can be and are here to support you. Treatment planning will include both short-term and long-term goals for your individual situation. If there is anything we can do to make your appointment easier for you, please let us know.