Overcoming Depression: How to Find Right Therapist
Losing a loved one, going through a divorce, getting fired from a job, and other difficult life transitions can lead to feelings of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness. Mild and relatively short versions of these feelings are normal reactions to life’s stressors. But when these feelings become severe, persistent, and long-lasting, they can interfere with your ability to function in daily life.
Major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Depression is highly treatable, and many people who seek professional help feel better. If you’re depressed, working with a therapist can help you cope with your feelings, change your perceptions, and develop new skills to ease your symptoms. According to Mental Health America, more than 80% of patients treated for depression improve.
Finding the right therapist can make all the difference in getting the best treatment for depression, but it’s essential to do some homework before starting your search.
When should you seek professional help?
Depression is a mental illness that involves persistent sadness, apathy, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, and a lack of interest in life. When these symptoms become overwhelming, frequent, or long-lasting, it’s essential to reach out for professional help.
The symptoms of depression can vary widely, and several different types of depression fall under the category of depressive disorders. Some common depressive disorders include:
- Major depressive disorder: People with major depressive disorder—also known as major depression, clinical depression, and unipolar depression—experience episodes of low mood that affect their ability to function in everyday life. Some common symptoms of depression include sadness, low energy or appetite, sleep problems, irritation, and a lack of interest or pleasure. For a diagnosis of major depression, these symptoms must persist for at least two weeks.
- Persistent depressive disorder: Persistent depressive disorder is a chronic form of depression. Many of the same symptoms of depression affect people with persistent depressive disorder, but symptoms persist for at least two years.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): People with PMDD experience depression symptoms in connection with their menstrual cycle.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): People with SAD experience depression symptoms with the change in seasons, with symptoms typically beginning and ending at the same time each year. Many people with SAD experience symptoms in the fall and winter.
- Postpartum depression: After childbirth, many new moms experience ”baby blues,” which consist of anxiety, low mood, and crying spells. ”Baby blues” begin within the first two to three days after birth, while postpartum depression involves a more long-lasting and severe depression.
- Bipolar disorder: Although bipolar disorder is a mood disorder and not a type of depression, people with bipolar disorder experience episodes of extreme lows that meet the criteria for major depression (called ”bipolar depression”). However, people with bipolar disorder also experience extreme high moods called “mania.”
Many people with major depressive disorder also experience co-occurring mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders, which can exacerbate symptoms and make recovery more challenging. Depressive disorders and anxiety disorders share similar risk factors and can contribute to each other, with one condition worsening or triggering the other.
What type of mental health professional is right for you?
Many types of mental health professionals can help you overcome depression and work toward your recovery goals. Whether you’re searching for a new therapist or seeking professional help for the first time, choosing the right professional for your mental health needs can contribute to the success of your depression treatment.
Some mental health professionals that offer depression therapy include:
- Psychologists hold a doctoral degree in clinical psychology (PsyD) or a related field such as counseling or education (Ph.D.). Psychologists are trained to evaluate mental health, make diagnoses, and provide individual therapy and group therapy. Some psychologists have training in special forms of therapy, such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and interpersonal therapy (IPT).
- Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors that can diagnose mental illnesses, prescribe and monitor medications, and provide psychotherapy. Psychiatric nurses can provide assessments, diagnoses, and therapy for mental illnesses.
- Clinical social workers evaluate an individual’s mental health and use therapeutic techniques based on specific training programs. Many licensed clinical social workers also provide case management and advocacy services.
- Counselors, clinicians, and therapists are trained to evaluate an individual’s mental health and offer psychotherapy. These mental health professionals hold a master’s degree and operate under a variety of titles—including licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), licensed counselor, and depression counselor—based on the treatment setting.
What types of therapy are used to treat depression?
Before starting your search for a depression therapist, it can be helpful to research different types of talk therapy. Everyone has unique needs, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to depression treatment. Exploring different types of therapy can help you determine what you’re interested in—and what you’d like to avoid—during your depression treatment.
Some common types of talk therapy used in the treatment of depression include:
- Psychodynamic therapy: Psychodynamic therapy helps people with depression identify the roots of their emotional distress through in-depth self-reflection and self-examination. Psychodynamic therapy can help people with depression find relief from symptoms, understand patterns in thinking and behavior, and live healthier lives.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT): IPT helps people with depression address interpersonal problems, including avoidance, social withdrawal, and aggression. IPT can also help clients manage grief, navigate difficult life transitions, and cope with interpersonal problems, such as disputes with family members.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps people with depression identify negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, challenge them and replace them with healthier ones. By helping clients to learn new ways to cope with mental health concerns, a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy can lead to a significant improvement in daily functioning and quality of life. CBT is also an effective treatment for a wide range of other mental health concerns, including panic attacks, substance abuse, and bipolar disorder.
While some people will improve with psychotherapy alone, others require a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants. During the beginning of your depression treatment, be patient. Psychotherapy can be uncomfortable at times, and you might find yourself doing most of the talking during your first few therapy sessions.
After assessing your situation and the severity of your depression, your therapist will work collaboratively with you to ease your depression symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Starting Your Search For a Therapist
While many prospective clients use search engines like Google to find a depression therapist, others ask their primary care doctor or healthcare provider for a referral. However, a referral isn’t required to meet with a mental health professional.
If you’re not sure where to start, some helpful resources include:
- Your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If your employer offers an EAP, mental health services are included in your benefits package. EAPs typically offer short-term mental health treatment from psychologists, social workers, and counselors within your plan.
- Schools and universities often offer counseling services that can offer referrals if they can’t help you directly. Students, alum, and faculty can typically access mental health services.
- Health insurance companies often offer search engines to help prospective clients find in-network mental health professionals.
- Online therapist directories, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), offer resources to help prospective clients find support.
- Online therapy platforms like the Therapy Group of NYC connect prospective clients to licensed therapists based on their personal preferences, requirements, mental health concerns, and availability.
Choosing the Right Therapist
When meeting with a new therapist, take some time to decide whether you feel comfortable with them. Remember: you have no obligation to keep seeing a therapist. If you don’t feel comfortable, keep searching until you find a good therapist that you like and trust.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to consider the type of therapist you would feel most comfortable opening up to. According to the APA, choosing a therapist based on a shared aspect of your identity, such as race or gender, can boost your treatment’s success.
If you don’t have any preferences or requirements, considering the credentials, certificates, and specialties of potential therapists, along with your budget and availability, can help you make the right choice.
Whether you’re experiencing feelings of sadness for the first time or you’re searching for a new depression therapist, it’s essential to take the time to find the right therapist.
When you’re ready to start your search, reach out to a therapist through the Therapy Group of NYC. At the Therapy Group of NYC, we know that recognizing your strengths requires determination, persistence, and the help of experienced therapists who can serve as an enduring resource for you.
One of the licensed therapists at the Therapy Group of NYC will help you determine the most effective treatment plan, navigate your mental health concerns, develop new coping skills to function in daily life.