Evidence For Effectiveness of Individual Therapy for Depression Treatment

by | Mar 1, 2023

Depression is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities that once brought pleasure. Depression can also affect one’s ability to function at work or school, socialize with friends and family, and enjoy life in general. Those with depression may wonder, ‘does therapy help with depression?’ Fortunately, research has shown that individual therapy for depression treatment can be extremely effective. In this article, we will examine some of the most compelling evidence supporting the effectiveness of individual therapy for depression treatment.

Common Types of Therapy Used for Depression Treatment

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of therapy that helps individuals identify negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their depression symptoms. The therapist will work with the patient to challenge these negative thoughts and develop more positive and realistic thoughts and beliefs. CBT is one of the most effective types of therapy for depression, and it has been shown to be as effective as medication in treating depression.

Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

IPT is a type of therapy that focuses on improving communication and relationships with others. IPT is particularly useful for individuals who are experiencing depression as a result of relationship problems or other social difficulties.

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on the unconscious thoughts and feelings that may contribute to depression symptoms. The therapist works with the patient to explore these unconscious thoughts and feelings and develop a better understanding of their depression.

Other types of therapy may also be effective for depression, such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy.

It is important to note that individual therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution for depression. Some individuals may require medication or other forms of treatment in addition to therapy to effectively manage their depression symptoms. It is also important to find a therapist who is a good fit for the individual and their specific needs.

Research Studies Supporting the Effectiveness of Therapy for Treating Depression

Medications versus cognitive behavior therapy for severely depressed outpatients: Mega-analysis of four randomized comparisons

The effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication in treating severe depression was compared in this study by DeRubeis and colleagues. The researchers concluded that CBT was just as effective as medication in treating severe depression after conducting a mega-analysis of four randomized controlled studies. Also, it seemed that CBT’s advantages outlasted those of medicine.

The study offers compelling evidence that CBT is useful in treating severe depression. It implies that CBT may be helpful for those with severe depression, either on its own or in conjunction with medication.

Efficacy of cognitive-behavioural therapy and other psychological treatments for adult depression: Meta-analytic study of publication bias

In this meta-analysis, which included over 80 papers, Cuijpers and colleagues investigated the effectiveness of CBT and other psychological treatments for adult depression in this study. The researchers discovered that CBT was superior to other methods in the treatment of depression.  The research presents compelling evidence that CBT is helpful for treating depression and raises the possibility that CBT may be the preferred treatment option in some cases

National Institute of Mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program: General effectiveness of treatments

This study, conducted by Elkin and colleagues, examined the effectiveness of various treatments for depression, including psychotherapy, medication, and a combination of both. The researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial with over 250 patients and found that all three treatments were effective in treating depression. However, the combination of medication and psychotherapy was the most effective treatment.

The study provides strong evidence for the effectiveness of psychotherapy in treating depression, and suggests that a combination of psychotherapy and medication may be the most effective treatment option for some individuals.

Randomized trial of behavioral activation, cognitive therapy, and antidepressant medication in the acute treatment of adults with major depression

Dimidjian et al. compared the efficacy of behavioral activation (BA), cognitive therapy (CT), and antidepressant medication for the treatment of depression in this study. The authors enrolled 200 patients in a a randomized control trial and found that BA and CT are equally as effective at treating depression. In addition, both BA and CT were superior to pharmacotherapy alone.

The study provides further support to the fact that therapy is a useful tool to treat depression, and may actually be the ideal modality, especially for those who are not responding to antidepressant medications.

Treatment and prevention of depression

In a meta-analysis of over 100 clinical published studies, Hollon and colleagues reviewed the data supporting the effectiveness of different treatment modalities for depression, including medication, psychotherapy, and alternative therapies and found again that cognitive therapy and interpersonal therapy were the most successful modalities of psychotherapy.

Final Thoughts on the Effectiveness of Individual Therapy for Depression Treatment

Does therapy help with depression? Yes! The data, in sum, validates the efficacy of individual therapy for depression treatment. According to the studies mentioned in this article, several forms of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy, can be successful in treating depression. These findings also imply that therapy may be as helpful as medication, and that for certain patients, a combination of therapy and medication may be the most successful course of treatment.

As every person’s experience with depression is different, it may take some trial and error to identify the best form of therapy and treatment strategy. Also, it is important to remember that individual therapy is a complimentary strategy that can improve the efficacy of other therapies rather than a replacement for other forms of care like medicine. It is also necessary to remember that getting professional assistance for depression is essential. A trained mental health professional can assist patients in selecting the most appropriate course of care and creating a personalized treatment plan for their particular requirements.

Overall, the data points strongly toward the possibility that individual therapy can be a successful depression treatment. People with depression can reduce their symptoms and enhance their overall wellbeing by working with a skilled mental health professional to create a personalized treatment plan.

 

References:

DeRubeis, R. J., Gelfand, L. A., Tang, T. Z., & Simons, A. D. (1999). Medications versus cognitive behavior therapy for severely depressed outpatients: Mega-analysis of four randomized comparisons. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156(7), 1007-1013.

Cuijpers, P., Smit, F., Bohlmeijer, E., Hollon, S. D., & Andersson, G. (2010). Efficacy of cognitive-behavioural therapy and other psychological treatments for adult depression: Meta-analytic study of publication bias. British Journal of Psychiatry, 196(3), 173-178.

Elkin, I., Shea, M. T., Watkins, J. T., Imber, S. D., Sotsky, S. M., Collins, J. F., … & Parloff, M. B. (1989). National Institute of Mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program: General effectiveness of treatments. Archives of General Psychiatry, 46(11), 971-982.

Dimidjian, S., Hollon, S. D., Dobson, K. S., Schmaling, K. B., Kohlenberg, R. J., Addis, M. E., … & Jacobson, N. S. (2006). Randomized trial of behavioral activation, cognitive therapy, and antidepressant medication in the acute treatment of adults with major depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(4), 658-670.

Hollon, S. D., Thase, M. E., & Markowitz, J. C. (2002). Treatment and prevention of depression. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 3(2), 39-77.

Mara Hirschfeld, LMFT
Mara Hirschfeld, LMFT
I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and the proud founder of Holding Hope MFT. I created Holding Hope as a space for individuals and couples to delve into their deepest selves, free from the fears of judgment or shame. Through my writing, I strive to cultivate a deeper understanding of mental health topics, breaking down barriers and fostering a more supportive and informed community.

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