Depression is a mental health condition affecting approximately 280 million people in the world. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, guilt, worry, restlessness, helplessness, and a variety of other negative emotions.
Studies have shown that depression causes actual physical changes to the brain. Some parts of the brain may shrink somewhat due to depression. Gray matter volume may be reduced in the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. These are the parts responsible for memory, learning, planning, and high level thinking.
Can these changes be reversed with depression therapy? Does therapy change your brain in positive ways? Here’s what you should know about the benefits of therapy for the brain.
How is Depression Treated?
Depression can be treated in a few different ways, but primarily through one or both of these methods:
- Antidepressant medication. There are a variety of medications used for depression. They boost the chemicals in your brain that control stress and emotions.
- Psychotherapy. Otherwise known as cognitive behavior therapy, this treatment aims to change the way you think and handle emotions through talking and listening.
What is Psychotherapy?
More specifically, psychotherapy involves talking about your symptoms and feelings to a trained therapist. Your therapist may offer suggestions for different ways of thinking that can change the way you process or view your own emotions. Psychotherapy can help you make positive changes in your thinking that can help you improve or overcome depression.
Can Psychotherapy Physically Alter Your Brain?
Just as depression can physically alter your brain matter, psychotherapy can as well. As you change your way of thinking, your brain grows and changes. The connectivity of neurons is improved, along with a better blood supply. Psychotherapy can also stimulate growth hormones that improve learning capabilities in the brain.
Another way that psychotherapy changes your brain is to help it develop healthy cycles. As you practice positive ways of processing and dealing with emotions, your brain learns and memorizes these patterns. When faced with stress or strong emotions, the brain becomes more capable of self regulation. You may even find that you are able to be more emotionally resilient in the face of situations that would have been overwhelming for you in the past.
Psychotherapy helps you to associate feelings with thoughts and vice versa, which can make it easier to think through emotions and respond to them more positively. This creates new and better connections between the part of the brain responsible for thought and language and the part that is responsible for emotion, memory, and involuntary brain activity.
Is Psychotherapy Effective at Treating Depression?
For some people psychotherapy alone can provide the necessary treatment to reduce or end depression symptoms. For others, medication may need to accompany psychotherapy to treat the chemical deficiencies that play a part in depression. Lifestyle changes can also help with depression symptoms, such as exercise, diet changes, and meditation.
Why Choose South County Psychiatry?
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, seeking treatment is the first step toward change. South County Psychiatry provides a wide range of services to treat depression and other mental and emotional health conditions. Our goal is to help you learn ways to change the way you think and process emotions so that you can overcome the negative symptoms that interfere with your daily life. It is possible for you to alter your brain for better mental health.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.