Therapies for depression

There is a range of therapeutic approaches available for treating psychological problems. A therapy option is chosen based on the patient's clinical picture, individual circumstances and personality. The advice provided by a general practitioner or medical examiner can help depression sufferers and their families make the right decisions.


Daniela Schori

Therapies that are scientifically proven to work

Medicinal therapies

In case of severe mental illnesses, a medicinal therapy is often a prerequisite for successful treatment or participation in other therapeutic measures. Medication can be used, for example, to treat metabolic disorders of the brain which often occur in case of mental illnesses. Sedatives, antipsychotics (neuroleptics), antidepressants or mood-stabilising medication are used.


One’s own problems are dealt with intensively in one-to-one and group conversations (e.g. family therapy). As a first step, it is about putting these difficulties into words and investigating the causes. With the therapist's help, problem-solving strategies are then developed and new behaviours are practised. Frequent forms are: psychotherapy, behaviour therapy, depth psychology approaches and systemic therapy.

Therapies with a supportive effect

Action-oriented therapies

The aim of action-oriented therapies is to be actively involved in shaping one’s personal life and to overcomes one’s own powerlessness. Patients learn that they can make their own contributions to relationships in an effective manner and can influence their surroundings. This includes, for example, occupational therapy, activity therapy, work therapy, sociotherapy and milieu therapy.

Body-oriented therapies

Body therapy involves consciously exploring one’s own body. In the various forms of therapy, the body is influenced and strengthened through active or passive participation: body therapy, aromatherapy, relaxation techniques, fitness and sports therapy and physiotherapy.

Expressive therapies

Language is not the only way of expressing one’s own feelings and experiences and establishing relationships with other people. That is why in expressive therapies like art therapy or music therapy, other tools are purposefully used to help one deal with one’s feelings, emotions and conflicts.

Further information on clinical pictures and therapies is available from the Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Angst und Depression

Psychiatrist Dr med. Josef Hättenschwiler Psychiatrist Dr med. Josef Hättenschwiler

Psychiatrist Dr med. Josef Hättenschwiler

Dr med. Josef Hättenschwiler heads up the ZADZ Centre for the Treatment of Anxiety and Depression Zurich. The specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy is a founding member of the Swiss Forum for Mood and Anxiety Disorders (SFMAD), which promotes further training and offers an information platform for those affected, their friends and relatives, experts, companies and the media. Dr Josef Hättenschwiler was on hand to advise and support the editorial team for this article.


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