Best Types of Therapy for Addressing Depression

Depression is much more than simply feeling sad; depression is a whole-body experience that impacts our ability to function in the world. Not only does depression impact individuals of all ages, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds it impacts over 300 million people worldwide. Unfortunately, even with these alarming statistics, there is still a pervasive stigma that exists in our country around depression.




While depression is in fact highly treatable, this deep-rooted stigma often discourages people to reach out for help. Today we would like to shine a light on several different types of therapy approaches if you are struggling with depression. Learning about various types of therapy can help you determine the best fit for you before you begin your healing journey alongside a compassionate therapist.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)


Cognitive Behavioral therapy is among the most popular talk therapy approach for treating depression at the outpatient level. This treatment approach is goal-oriented and sessions vary from 8-20 sessions. The key principle of CBT is that our thoughts impact how we feel and what we do. This means our thoughts play a critical role in maintaining when we feel low, hopeless, or helpless. When we are depressed, we tend to view everything happening from this negative lens.


During a CBT session, your therapist will help you take a closer look at your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and see exactly how they are all interrelated. In learning how to recognize and explore automatic thoughts, you can come to an understanding of how these thoughts may keep you stuck in those feelings of depression. Through CBT, you can unlearn your negative thinking tendencies and adopt more helpful thinking patterns.


CBT therapists are not there to tell you if your thoughts are “right” or “wrong,” but rather to help you investigate the interplay between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Therefore you can figure out where you might make changes. After your sessions, the hope is for you to have the skills you need to cope with your depression outside the therapy room.


CBT might be a good fit for you if:

  • Experience automatic negative reactions: have habitual, scolding thoughts

  • Experience a loud inner critic that contributes to your low mood or negative feelings about yourself

  • You have an openness to change

  • You are patient and are willing to put in the time to do the work with a trusted therapist


Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)


Mindfulness meditation practices are increasingly being incorporated into therapy approaches for treating depression. MBCT or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy is a type of CBT approach that teaches you mindfulness as a way to help become aware of your thoughts without judging yourself or feeling the need to control your thoughts. These thoughts most likely contribute to your depression, through MBCT we can become mindful observers of our thoughts. This manualized 8-week therapy group approach is a well-established and scientifically-proven way of training your 'meditation muscles’. Throughout the program, you will work to develop the well-being benefits of mindfulness by engaging in the present moment and disrupting the destructive thought patterns that keep you stuck.


MBCT may be a helpful choice for you if:

  • Experience recurring depression and have had more than two depressive episodes

  • Have just recently overcome a bout of depression

  • Want to learn how to prevent becoming depressed in the future

  • Want to decrease long-term reliance on SSRIs (antidepressant medications)

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)


There is overwhelming evidence that interpersonal therapy can be an effective intervention for reducing depression. Interpersonal therapy is a structured talk therapy that usually consists of 12-16 individual sessions with a therapist. Instead of focusing on the need to make behavior or thought changes like CBT, interpersonal therapy believes that depression symptoms are linked to struggles in our interpersonal relationships and social supports. Therefore, the healing work in IPT is to address both stressful life events and help improve our social support.


IPT may work for you if:

  • You feel low for weeks after losing your job, relocating cities, or retiring

  • You are having difficulty coping with changes in your life, whether it's your parents' divorce, or role transitions (graduating from college and “adulting” or leaving the military and entering civilian life)

  • You broke up with your partner and have been experiencing depression that has impacted other areas of your life whether you are now hating your job or noticing interpersonal conflict with your family

  • You are experiencing lots of feelings of isolation working from home, and feel like it's impacting all areas of your life

If you are thinking that CBT or IPT could be particularly helpful for you, connecting with a therapist could be a great next step in lifting your depression. The therapists at North Berkeley Counseling are all licensed psychologists trained in CBT techniques that can be incredibly empowering. We offer sessions in Berkeley, California, and throughout California, Hawaii, Virginia, and Florida online.