Depression is a serious condition that can be life-threatening if left untreated. People with moderate to severe depression can experience a condition known as anhedonia, which means an inability to experience pleasure in things that once brought them joy. Fortunately, therapy has a good success rate when it comes to alleviating the symptoms of depression. Here are some of the things a depression therapist can do for someone who is experiencing a major depressive episode:
1. Listen to them
Therapists are trained to engage in active listening. Many people with depression feel unheard and misunderstood. Therapists will strive to create safe spaces for patients to discuss their real feelings and struggles. Only after patients open up can real healing begin.
2. Recommend small changes
Depression isn't caused by lifestyle factors, but certain factors can improve or worsen the severity of depression symptoms. Depression often causes low motivation and a lack of energy in sufferers, which can lead people to stop exercising or participating in self-care routines. Getting regular exercise, showering daily, and eating healthy food can help someone with depression feel better. A therapist will find out how a patient is caring for themselves and make suggestions to improve their level of self-care. These changes don't have to be big. Small changes can lead to vast improvements in mental health.
3. Suggest medical treatments
Talk therapy can be very effective at reducing depression symptoms. However, sometimes other treatments are necessary to provide improvement in patients' symptoms. A therapist can suggest that a patient talks to their primary care physician or a psychiatrist about starting antidepressants. Antidepressants are SSRIs or SNRIs that modify the way a person's brain works by increasing the amount of certain neurochemicals in the brain. These drugs can help people with depression feel more in control of their mental states.
4. Monitor the patient for signs of suicidal ideation
Depression can be fatal if patients decide to take their own lives. People who are suicidal don't see a way to overcome their problems. Most people don't want to die; they simply want their pain to stop. A good therapist will continually monitor depressed patients for signs of suicidal ideation. If patients express a desire and plan to take their own lives, a therapist will intervene to get the patient the intensive help they need. Inpatient treatment is available for people with depression who are dangerous to themselves or other people.
If you need depression treatment, reach out to a counseling center near you.