by Preda A

Treating depression depends on what you need. You and your doctor will work together to find the best method that works for you:


Psychotherapy for depression involves many types of counseling. This may be as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal or psychodynamic therapies. There may be time when you need more than 1 type. Talking through your problems will help you get a handle on how to cope with them.


CBT is very helpful in treating many types of depression. It will help you look at how you feel and think. It also helps you learn to see them in a more truthful way. Doing so will help you cope with real life problems as they come up.

Interpersonal Therapy

This type helps you look at people in your life that cause or make depression worse. It shifts your focus away from the depression and your relations with others. It will help with your talking skills and boost your self-esteem.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy helps you focus on the feelings you have the most problems with.

Education for Family Members

People in your family can also help you get better. They will learn about depression and how it can make your life harder. This will help them to cope so they can be more supportive.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used to treat severe depression. ECT may be used in:

  • People who have a high suicide risk
  • Older people who have psychosis and depression
  • Pregnant women
  • People who can't take medicines
  • People who take medicines but don't get better

You'll be given medicine to help you relax. You'll be watched the whole time. A painless electrical current is sent out. It’s sent to your brain. You may need more ECT over weeks to months. This will depend on the problems you’re having.

Possible problems with ECT:

  • Headache
  • Sore muscles
  • Heart problems
  • Short-term problems with thinking clearly

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Transcranial magnetic stimulation involves the use of a large electromagnetic coil placed near the left side of the forehead. It sends out painless electrical currents. It's used on people who haven't gotten better using other methods.


Phototherapy is sitting under a certain type of light for around 30 minutes a day. It's most useful for treating seasonal affective disorder, but it may help with other types.

Dietary Changes and Supplements

These may be helpful for some people because it’s based on what you need. But they don’t work for all people who take them. Don't take any of these until you talk to your doctor first:

Music Therapy

Music is the core of this type. This may involve listening to music, talking about lyrics, singing, or dancing. Many aspects of this are helpful for easing depression.


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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated August 23, 2018. Accessed October 5, 2018.

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What is music therapy? American Music Therapy Association website. Available at: Accessed October 5, 2018.

7/26/2010 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance : Lespérance F, Frasure-Smith N, St-André E, et al. The efficacy of omega-3 supplementation for major depression: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011;72(8):1054-1062.

7/28/2011 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance : Jakobsen JC, Hansen JL, Simonsen E, Gluud C. The effect of adding psychodynamic therapy to antidepressants in patients with major depressive disorder. A systematic review of randomized clinical trials with meta-analyses and trial sequential analyses. J Affect Disord. 2012;137(1-3):4-14.

7/28/2011 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance : Shimazu K, Shimodera S, Mino Y, et al. Family psychoeducation for major depression: randomised controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2011 ;198(5):385-390.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2018
  • Update Date: 11/13/2020