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What do I need to know if I'm in psychotherapy?

Three types of psychotherapy have proven especially effective for depression. Sometimes therapists combine these therapies to treat depression.

Cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy helps you identify and change negative and pessimistic ways of thinking and viewing the world. People who are depressed often see the world through "gray-tinted glasses" - they see everything in the worst possible light. For instance, to them small problems become major disasters. They view the world as a fearful, hateful, hostile place, which fills them with dread, worry, and tension. A therapist can help you learn to recognize this type of negative thinking and feeling as well as help you identify the situations that bring the negative thoughts. A therapist can also help you learn to see the situation in a more positive and realistic way.

Behavioral therapy. The focus in behavioral therapy is on changing your current behaviors that contribute to depression. This type of therapy helps you identify how your actions, or behaviors, affect your feelings. For instance, when you're feeling depressed, you may spend little time doing enjoyable things. The therapist may help you to both identify pleasant activities and help you figure out how to spend more time doing them. As a result of recognizing behaviors that make you feel bad and changing them for ones that help you feel happy, your mood improves.

Interpersonal therapy. This type of therapy helps you deal with conflicts that you have with other people - your partner, boss, friends, or family - that impact your depression. It aims to resolve conflicts, improve social skills, and help you become more involved and in touch with others in positive ways.