All Sorts of Therapies Effective for Depression Treatment: Key is Getting Help


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Depression usually responds to treatment, so don’t wait until you are in dire straits before you ask for help. Image by darcyadelaide.

Two recent research studies underscore the importance of psychotherapy to treat depression.

Mental health practitioners generally agree that depression is best treated by a combination of drug therapy (also known as psychopharmacology) and talk therapy (also known as psychotherapy).

Given the range of types of psychotherapy, it can be difficulty for mental health patients to determine which type of therapy would best suit them.

These two studies show that at least eight types of psychotherapeutic interventions are equally as effective.

The act of obtaining treatment for depression seems more important than the type of treatment obtained.

Depressive Symptoms Require Help

While anyone could benefit from the insight and skills offered by individual and group therapy, accessing psychotherapeutic treatment is crucial for clinically depressed individuals.

Symptoms of depression include a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks. People who are having a major depressive episode might have little interest in activities that used to give them pleasure, weight loss or gain, oversleeping or under sleeping, and a sense of fatigue and loss of energy. They might also have slowed activity levels, trouble concentrating, and recurring thoughts of death. E types of therapy can help diminish feelings of depression.

The very act of connecting to another human being is one of the first steps in returning to one’s former self.

Treating Depression: Which Therapy is Best?

A new study by University of Bern, Switzerland professor Jurgen Barth compared the effectiveness of different types of therapy. He reviewed 198 studies that reviewed the treatment results about more than 15,000 patients who received different types of talk therapy. Each of the forms of therapy he reviewed is based on a distinctive theory and has been developed through years of practice.

Remarkably, despite their divergent theoretical backgrounds, there was little noticeable variation among the effectiveness of different therapy styles in helping depressed patients.  Moreover, all of the types of therapies performed well on all types of patient groups, regardless of age and life circumstances.

Among the recommended therapies are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches patients how to evaluate and change their negative beliefs, and psychodynamic therapy, which helps patients develop insight about the impact of the past on the present. Dr. Barth also reviewed the effectiveness of problem solving therapy, behavioral activation therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy and supportive counseling.

Of the seven types of therapy reviewed, social skills training had the weakest effect. That type of therapy, which teaches patient skills to develop and maintain healthy relationships, might seem irrelevant to people who are too depressed to relate to others. They must work on improving their own self esteem before they can work on improving relationships with others.

Internet Therapy For Depression – Not Just for Surfing

Two researchers at another Swiss institution, the University of Switzerland, performed a 2013 study about how depressed patients respond to online therapy. The study, led by Professor Birgit Wagner, comprised six therapists treating 62 depressed patients. After the patients were randomly divided into two groups, one group received eight live therapy sessions, while the other was given eight online therapy sessions.

While each group of patients showed decreased depression in response to the therapy, the internet therapy subjects showed a slightly higher response rate. At the end of the treatment period, 53% the online therapy patients were depression free, compared with 50% of the patients who had received face-to-face therapy. Furthermore, three months after treatment had ended, the patients who had received online therapy showed a greater decrease in depression than those in traditional therapy.

Internet therapy is a viable option to live therapy. Image by Blaise Alleyne.

The study not only illustrated the value of online therapy, it also highlighted an advantage: patients could return and reread the correspondence with their therapists, thus bolstering their treatment results. Perhaps that explains why 96% of the online therapy patients, versus 91% of the conventional therapy patients, reported their interaction with their therapists as ‘personal.’

Depression: Getting Help is Key

When it comes to depression, the key is finding help. Without intervention, depression can become chronic. Finding a local or online therapist, regardless of therapeutic orientation, is critical to recovery.


Wagner, B., Internet-based versus face-to-face cognitive-behavioral intervention for depression: A randomized controlled non-inferiority trial(2013).  Journal of Affective Disorders. Accessed on August 1, 2013.

Barth J, et al. Comparative Efficacy of Seven Psychotherapeutic Interventions for Patients with Depression: A Network Meta-Analysis.  (2013).PLOS Medicine. Accessed on August 1, 2013.

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