CBT is more widely available than interpersonal therapy, which focuses on a person's relationships. It can sometimes be hard to find therapists who use either of these techniques in the way that the studies found effective.

"There are two clear indicators that someone is practicing CBT," Gorenstein says. "The first is that they are focused on the present and finding thinking and behavioral strategies for coping. What they won't be concerned with is identifying the cause. If someone is focusing on what led you to be this way as opposed to how you can change, that's an indication that you are not getting CBT." Second, CBT doesn't spotlight your relationship with the therapist, Gorenstein notes.

Beyond technique, numerous studies have found that what matters most to recovery is whether the patient feels connected to the therapist.

"The research is pretty strong that about five times as much therapeutic value comes from the quality of the relationship than from any evidence-based practice," says Eric Goplerud, a professor of health policy at George Washington University. "It's important to look for evidence-based practices, but if you don't feel like this is a person you can work with, you ought not go there."

Feeling Good Again

"You aren't aiming for being less miserable. It's about being comfortable about being able to experience the good and the bad of life," Goplerud says.

As for Patrice and Gaia, both sought and received effective treatment. Patrice responded to a radio commercial seeking subjects for a clinical trial of antidepressants. She took antidepressants for about six months.

"Now I have joy," she says. "It's not forced, it's not faked. I'm in a fantastic mood every day, I'm off meds. I'm so grateful I that I took that step and I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I don't think I would wait as long and get to depth I was in before."

Gaia, too, stopped the medication after a few years of using both therapy and an antidepressant. "I can still dip down," she says, "But I can get out of it myself a lot quicker and I don't just stay there." "Don't be ashamed to get help or feel bad," she says, "Own it and do it."

Source: Duke University