Depression can often make you feel like a wayward fragment of a shipwreck in the ocean, where waves of sadness jolt you around with no clear direction in mind. This powerless experience is made even more helpless by the deep-seated loneliness that comes with the thought, ‘Nobody will understand’. Like a shipwreck, the two major possibilities are to be brought ashore by the waves or slowly sink to the bottom, with little to no control over either. In such cases, counseling can become the oar with which you can begin to take control of your life.
It can help you break through the negative cycles of helplessness because an online therapist will understand. With more and more control over the emotional waves that nudge you around, you can slowly learn to surf over them and regulate your feelings to be able to change the narrative of your life. This article will explore various types of depression and several different approaches to treating depression, then elaborate on diverse counselling methods and techniques for this disorder.
Types of Depression
Major Depressive Disorder:
MDD refers to a condition that can include symptoms such as low mood, irritability, loss of interest, changes in sleep and appetite, etc. for a minimum of 6 months, impacting various areas of life such as work, relationships, social behavior, and sense of self. It is one of the most common forms of depression and the most prevalent mental health condition as well.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
PDD was previously known as dysthymia, and pertains to a state where individuals experience symptoms similar to MDD but at a lower intensity and for a longer period. For a diagnosis of PDD, adults with symptoms for 2 years, and children with symptoms for 1 year fit the criteria. Just because the symptoms vary in intensity does not make PDD any less debilitating, as individuals often spend a long time battling the condition before receiving a diagnosis.
Bipolar Disorder has two subtypes. Bipolar I has individuals experiencing one or more manic episodes where they feel abnormally upbeat with increased agitation, exaggerated self-confidence (euphoria), decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, increased distractibility, poor decision making, and unusual talkativeness; the manic episodes may be accompanied by major depressive and/or hypomanic episodes as well. Bipolar II occurs when individuals experience major depressive and hypomanic episodes, but not manic episodes. This disorder goes beyond mood swings and can be very devitalizing.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD is an illness marked by mental health changes occurring with seasonal changes. Symptoms include low mood, loss of interest, low energy, increased sleep, carbohydrate cravings, difficulty concentrating, poor self-image, and suicidal ideations. These symptoms appear in a cyclic form during a particular time of the year, at a particular season, like winter or summer.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
PMDD is a severe form of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) where menstruating biological females experience a depression-like state along with other somatic complaints that appear a week before menses and end a few days after the period is over. It’s a chronic medical condition linked to lowered serotonin levels due to hormonal disruption.
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
DMDD is a condition faced by teenagers and adolescents with symptoms such as severe temper outbursts, chronically irritable mood, and trouble functioning at home, school, and with peers due to disturbed emotional states. It goes beyond the occasional bad mood or temper tantrum and is very debilitating for a young child who does not understand their symptoms.
Approaches to Treating Depression
Medication: One of the most well-researched biological causes of depression is a chemical imbalance in neurotransmitters in the brain. Medication for depression aims to stabilize this imbalance through various classes of drugs such as SSRIs, SNRIs, and benzodiazepines. These medicines help individuals with depression by reducing symptoms like low mood and anxiety, allowing them to engage in other forms of treatment to help themselves further.
Counselling or Therapy: Therapeutic Interventions like online therapy and counselling focus on identifying environmental and intrinsic factors that contribute to depression. It also provides a space to process the difficult psychological experience underlying depression and find unique and tailored approaches to help cope with and treat depressive disorders.
Relaxation and Yoga: Lifestyle changes and methods like yoga work on reducing symptoms of anxiety, overthinking, stress, and low mood to create a more peaceful state for individuals struggling with depression. Many pieces of research link yoga and relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, and aromatherapy among others, with reduced symptoms of depression and other mental illnesses.
Light Therapy: This is an innovative treatment, initially developed for the treatment of SAD that involves spending time near a specialized light source in the morning for 30-60 minutes. Recent headway in treatment exploration shows that light therapy has possible applications in the care of other forms of mood disorders as well.
Types of Counselling for Depression
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: CBT for depression is one of the most robust therapeutic approaches. It focuses on helping individuals recognize their thought patterns and aid them in altering self-defeating schemas, also known as cognitive distortions, to view their concerns in a more helpful light. This form of therapy focused on thoughts as a window of change to lead to a more positive emotional state. Some common cognitive distortions that many people tend to engage in are all-or-nothing thinking, automatic negative reactions, overgeneralization, and personalization, among others.
Psychoanalytic Approaches: Psychodynamic therapy works with the impression that current symptoms are a presentation of disturbances in the unconscious mind and/or significant past experiences. This treatment delves deep into individuals’ personal life experiences to draw connections and make examinations that are used to make sense of current patterns of behavior. It is one of the most robust forms of therapy used to help clients with depression and can be a validating and enlightening experience.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy: DBT is a highly structured approach pivoted on acceptance and skill training as a means of coping with depression. It is a form of CBT and approaches negative thoughts from the perspective of accepting uncomfortable patterns of thinking, rather than struggling against them. The underlying idea is that by embracing distressing thoughts and feelings, it is easier to change them.
How do I find the best client-therapist fit?
While finding the right therapist is a very subjective process, there are some factors you can consider before making a decision. You can begin by determining your goals and expectations from therapy, for example, reducing overthinking, increasing confidence, coping with stress, etc. Having defined your goals for depression counselling, you can assess the specializations and approaches of therapists and therapy to find the ones that resonate with you the most.
Before booking your first session, a few other things you can look into are the credentials and licensing of the practitioner, their experience treating conditions similar to yours, reviews, and testimonials. You may even consider personal and practical factors such as location, the therapist’s availability, and your budget. Lastly, don’t forget to consider cultural and diversity influences. Sometimes, personal experiences seep into cultural nuances that are not apparent to individuals outside of that community, it might help to seek help from a professional who has had similar cultural experiences as yourself.