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How to Understand Depression: 5 Therapeutic Approaches for Healing

going through depression, understanding depression

We have made great strides in our understanding of the human psyche in the last century. Coming from inhumane and overprescribed practices such as electroshock therapy to today’s more holistic view of mental health as an integral part of our day to day life, the advancements are undeniable. However, depression continues to puzzle both experts and those who grapple with its impact. While we’ve made significant progress, there’s still no single widely accepted answer to the question of how depression truly works. 

The good news is, treatment can and does help. And building a personal map of how our depression works may be a crucial step on the path to healing. In this article, we will explore various therapeutic approaches that shed light on depression and offer strategies for managing it.

A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) View Of Depression

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely practiced therapeutic approaches for depression. Through the lens of CBT, individuals with depression often experience distorted and negative thought patterns. These thoughts are frequently automatic, exaggerated, and self-critical. They may revolve around themes of worthlessness, hopelessness, and a pessimistic outlook of the future.

CBT focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to depressive feelings. Therapists who utilize CBT help clients recognize distorted thinking and replace it with more balanced thoughts.


How to Work with Depression Using CBT:


      • Identify negative thought patterns and cognitive distortions.

      • Develop coping strategies to challenge and reframe these thoughts.

      • Implement behavioral interventions to increase positive activities and social engagement.


    A Psychodynamic View Of Depression

    Psychodynamic therapy delves into the unconscious aspects of a person’s psyche to explore the root causes of depression. From a Psychodynamic lens there may be unresolved conflicts deeply buried in the psyche (often rooted in childhood experiences) that contribute to depressive symptoms. By gaining insight into the underlying issues, clients can work towards healing and self-discovery.


    How to Work with Depression Using Psychodynamic Therapy:


        • Engage in open and reflective dialogue with a trained therapist.

        • Explore past experiences, relationships, and emotions.

        • Gain a deeper understanding of the origins of depressive feelings and patterns.


      A Humanistic-Existential View Of Depression

      Through the lens of Humanistic-Existential Therapy, depression is understood as a deeply personal experience that arises from the challenges of finding meaning, authenticity, and self-fulfillment in one’s life. This approach places a strong emphasis on the individual’s unique experience and their quest for self-actualization. Therapists in this approach encourage self-exploration, personal growth, and the pursuit of one’s values and goals.


      How to Work with Depression Using Humanistic-Existential Therapy:


          • Encourage self-reflection and self-acceptance.

          • Supports individuals in their journey to rediscover meaning and purpose in life.

          • Facilitate personal growth and self-empowerment.


        A Jungian View Of Depression

        Jungian therapy, inspired by the work of Carl Jung, delves into the realm of the unconscious mind, archetypes, and the integration of the self. It views depression as a signal that something in the individual’s psyche needs attention and integration. Conflicts involving repressed emotions, unacknowledged desires, or unexplored aspects of the self, often referred to as the “shadow”, may all be at play.


        How to Work with Depression Using Jungian Therapy:


            • Explore dreams, symbols, and archetypes with a Jungian therapist.

            • Examine the individuation process and the search for wholeness.

            • Identify and work with the shadow aspects of the self.


          Mindfulness-Based Therapy

          Mindfulness-based therapies, such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), incorporate mindfulness practices into the treatment of depression. Through the lens of Mindfulness-Based Therapy, depression is understood as a mental health condition characterized by a persistent low mood, a sense of hopelessness, and a disconnection from the present moment. These approaches emphasize present-moment awareness, helping individuals develop skills to manage distressing thoughts and emotions.


          How to Work with Depression Using Mindfulness-Based Therapy:


              • Practice mindfulness meditation and awareness exercises.

              • Cultivate non-judgmental awareness of thoughts and feelings.

              • Develop emotional regulation skills to reduce depressive relapse.



            Depression is a deeply personal and individual experience, and what works best for one person may differ from another. Therapists use various approaches to understand and treat depression, each offering its unique insights and techniques. Whether you are interested in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Humanistic-Existential Therapy, Jungian Therapy, or Mindfulness-Based Therapy, remember that seeking help is a positive step toward understanding and managing depression.

            Your journey to understanding depression may involve exploring your thoughts, feelings, past experiences, and your sense of self. With the guidance of a compassionate therapist, you can work toward healing, self-discovery, and a brighter future. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, seeking professional help is a crucial step on the path to recovery.


            Robb Kornoelje is the owner of the Truism Center, a seasoned relationship counselor, and the creator of the transformative 30-Day Relationship Challenge. With a passion for guiding individuals towards enriching their personal connections, Robb’s program is meticulously designed to help participants identify behaviors and beliefs that hinder their relationships. Robb’s teachings aim to supercharge your connection skills, increase compassion, and cultivate the ability to forgive. Join Robb in this journey of personal growth and relationship enhancement, where each step is a stride towards a more fulfilling life.

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