Geriatric Depression and its treatment: Psychotherapy
Treatments for Major Depression
In the last blog, I identified the symptoms of depression and some risk factors. In my next few blogs, I will review the variety of treatments available to manage this condition. First up-
Individual psychotherapy (‘talk therapy,’ ‘counseling’) can be very effective either alone or in conjunction with other treatment options for an episode of depression. The most common form of short-term psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT involves the therapist (usually a PhD or Masters level trained individual) engaging the patient in challenging, and then changing what are known as cognitive distortions- abnormal, counterproductive thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes. These distortions tend to develop gradually over years to decades. The patient is encouraged and guided to develop healthier coping strategies by identifying troubling thoughts, assessing whether they are accurate depictions of reality, and then employing strategies to overcome them. CBT is generally considered an action focused, short term therapy that, like all psychotherapies, requires a willing patient.
Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy occurs anywhere between once a week and once a month.
Or forms of psychotherapy include behavioral therapy (more used for obsessive compulsive conditions), interpersonal therapy (where the focus is on the patient’s relationships with others), and psychodynamic psychotherapy (‘psychoanalysis’), a long term therapy not often used in the senior population.
In the next blog, we move to the mainstay of depression treatment, the antidepressant medications.