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With so many different therapeutic approaches out there, it can be tough to decide which talk therapy is right for you if you suffer from depression. Don't overlook psychodynamic therapy, which can be very effective!

If you've read anything about depression at all, you'll know that antidepressants and talk therapy are the first-line treatments. While your doctor will usually take on the task of deciding what antidepressant is right for you, you may have more of a say in what kind of talk therapy you choose. With so many different approaches out there, that's no easy task.

You may just go for cognitive behavioral therapy considering it's popularity, but there are reasons to decide psychodynamic therapy is right for you instead. 

What is psychodynamic therapy?

Psychodynamic therapy is likely the kind of therapy that comes to mind if you've never attended therapy but have immersed yourself in pop culture. Influenced by Freud and others (the people who came up with psychoanalysis), it's the kind of therapy where you seek to uncover which things lingering around your subconscious influence your current behavior and thoughts. Yes, it wants you to delve into your "past conflicts" — including issues going back to childhood — to discover how they impact you, ultimately leading to catharsis and permanent change

Psychodynamic therapy traditionally goes on for at least two years. When you understand that its goal is to process your entire life thus far and to actually integrate things you have missed out on, as it were, into your very identity, that makes sense. However, therapists — and patients, for that matter — can also take the approach that even shorter therapeutic interventions will kick-start these important processes, and progress can be made faster. 

People who are determined to give psychodynamic therapy a go but who aren't ready to commit to two years of sessions can have between 25 and 40 sessions, or even less. Some therapy is better than no therapy, you might say. During traditional sessions, you'll be encouraged to talk about whatever you want, as it "comes up", even if the topics seem entirely unrelated. During briefer programs, however, your therapist will encourage you to stick to a central, most urgent, issue — so you can get the most out of your therapy in the shortest amount of time

Who is the right candidate for psychodynamic therapy, and will it help you with your depression? Let's take a look. 

Childhood trauma is common in depressed patients, and psychodynamic therapy is good for childhood issues

One study reported that 75.6 percent of chronically depressed people suffered "clinically significant" trauma during their childhoods, while 37 percent experienced multiple different traumas. These traumas can include sexual abuse, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, and physical abuse. The more traumatic the experience and the longer it went on, research shows, the more likely you are to be depressed as an adult. 

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the relationship between your past experiences and your present self more than some other kinds of talk therapy. If you fall into this group of people who experienced trauma as a child and are now suffering from major depressive disorder or another diagnosis that comes under the "depression" umbrella, psychodynamic therapy is likely to be a good choice for you. 

Psychodynamic therapy works

If you're currently looking to attend talk therapy, whether for depression or something else, chances are pretty high that you'll be advised to choose cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or will just randomly "end up with it". CBT, one of the most popular kinds of therapy out there at the moment, is "time-limited" (which means brief) and teaches you to analyze, basically, what's wrong in your thought patterns. The idea is that you can then change them, ending up with different outcomes. 

Studies have compared the outcomes of CBT with the outcomes of psychodynamic therapy and have found them to be equally effective. They have also compared "pharmacotherapy" (usually meaning antidepressants) to psychodynamic therapy, with research concluding that psychodynamic therapy can be as effective as medications, as well. Psychodynamic therapy has, then, been shown to actually do what it's meant to — lift people out of depression. That's plenty reason to try it. 

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the roots, not just the symptoms

As a therapeutic approach, psychodynamic therapy doesn't take the "lazy way out". It is not just a stop-gap to get you out of crisis, but a therapy that helps you work toward lasting change that can leave you feeling comfortable with yourself for a long time to come. Research shows, in fact, that the effects of psychodynamic therapy extend well beyond the time at which your treatment ends. Yes, psychodynamic therapy can help you with the symptoms of your depression right now, but the insights you gain from it can percolate and mature over the years, leading to a reduction in the risk of relapse. 

Considering that half of people who experienced depression once will do so again, and 80 percent of those who've suffered two or more depressive episodes will have a recurrence, that's a pretty good goal to have. 

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