March 21, 2024

Effective Depression Treatment Plans Provide the Roadmap to Recovery

Effective Depression Treatment Plans Provide the Roadmap to Recovery

As a behavioral health clinician, your desire is to help clients become their best selves.

When presented with clients who suffer from symptoms of depression, having ineffective ways to create and utilize depression treatment plans doesn’t do you or your clients any good.

Even more, unclear (or nonexistent) depression treatment plans make dealing with insurance companies a hassle.

Detailed and effective depression treatment plans are crucial for all parties involved and can help create a guide to identifying problems, making goals, and working through steps to get clients where they need to be.

Ritten has made this process easier than ever with customizable and streamlined ways to create, track, and utilize treatment plans for depression. Our software creates a seamless workflow for everyone involved – allowing users to easily create, modify, and share unique documentation.

Table of Contents

What Is a Treatment Plan for Depression?

Treatment plans for depression aim to help those suffering from feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, and more.

Because depression comes in many forms and can be caused by a variety of events, following a well-created treatment plan for depression is imperative.

A treatment plan for depression has several important goals and objectives:

  1. Address issues of dependence, helplessness, and hopelessness.
  2. Increase understanding of depressive feelings by identifying cues and symptoms, using vocabulary around depression, identifying triggers, etc.
  3. Correct irrational thinking that may lead to depression.
  4. Reduce the symptoms of depression using medication and/or attending therapy sessions.
  5. Improve daily functioning by going back to work, spending more time with family or friends, and/or participating in activities you once enjoyed.
  6. Learn how to cope with triggers that may cause symptoms to worsen.
  7. Prevent relapse of depression symptoms through medication, therapy, and/or lifestyle changes.
  8. Improve overall quality of life by setting attainable goals and taking steps to meet them.

Most often, a depression treatment plan is created and executed with a mental health provider. This plan allows the provider to help their clients recognize triggers, set attainable goals, and work toward reaching them while overcoming depression.  Most importantly, a depression treatment plan acts as a physical way for mental health providers to check in on a client’s progress.

What Is the Purpose of a Treatment Plan for Depression?

With set goals and objectives, a treatment plan for depression clearly outlines tasks that can help both the provider and client have successful outcomes.

A treatment plan for depression, like most mental health treatment plans, ensures that all necessary supporters understand their roles and how they can best benefit a client suffering from depression.

Responsible supporters for depression and mental health typically include:

  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychiatric nurses
  • GPs
  • Partial hospitalization programs
  • Intensive outpatient providers
  • Community care providers

Defining Individualized Goals

Although treatment plans for depression can be outlined similarly from patient to patient and across a variety of depression types, everyone experiencing depression does so differently.

Individualized treatment plans consider these differences and focus on the  patient’s circumstances, goals, needs, and more.

4 Components of a Treatment Plan for Depression

A treatment plan for depression helps mental health providers effectively manage their patient’s depressive symptoms. Although each plan is customized, the general blueprint for a depression treatment plan remains the same:

  1. Problem identification
  2. Goal setting
  3. Objectives
  4. Interventions

Mental health providers consider tracking patient progress to be a critical part of a depression treatment plan, which is why choosing an EMR system that helps execute and keep track of the details of each treatment plan is important. 

With Ritten’s Progress Note template, providers can easily access patient treatment plans and select the necessary tools for a day’s session. Following the session, providers can leave notes within the template for reference.

#1: Problem Identification

In general, depression is a mood disorder. However, there are a variety of depressive disorders that will require specific goals to successfully work through. 

To identify the problem, a diagnostic assessment is typically done (usually using the Patient Health Questionnaire) to gauge the severity and nature of said depression. This tool helps clinicians identify which depressive disorder a patient may be dealing with. 

Depressive disorders are typically identified in one of the following five ways:

  1. Clinical depression (major depressive disorder): Feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or feeling low most days for at least two weeks coinciding with other symptoms like loss of sleep, disinterest in activities, or change in appetite
  2. Persistent depressive disorder: A mild to moderate form of depression lasting for at least two years with symptoms less severe than clinical depression
  3. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder: Depression that causes chronic, intense irritability and frequent anger outbursts
  4. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Depression that onsets with premenstrual symptoms along with irritability, anxiety, or depression
  5. Depressive disorder due to a medical condition: Depression caused by the changes in your body from a medical condition like hypothyroidism, heart disease, cancer, etc

Generally, most types of depression are treated similarly with a combination of medication, psychotherapy, support groups, etc. However, each person experiences depression differently, even if they’re suffering from the same depressive disorder. 

The PHQ-9 coupled with a patient’s medical history, personal information, and more can help clinicians identify the type of depression and note things like symptoms, triggers, and personal circumstances. 

All of this information allows mental health professionals to better equip themselves with the information necessary to create an effective treatment plan.

#2: Objectives

While creating a depression treatment plan, clinicians and patients work to identify goals that may help reduce the symptoms of depression. Objectives and measurable and attainable goals are used to help patients meet an overarching goal.

For example, one goal for a patient may be to attend more social events in good spirits rather than sitting home alone on nights and weekends. While this goal seems large, setting objectives to help get there might seem more doable. 

Objectives for this goal might look like this:

  • I want to talk to friends twice a week with the intention of making social plans.
  • I want to put at least two possible social events on the calendar this month.
  • I want to attend at least one social event this month.
  • I want to buy something new for said social event that helps get me excited about going.

#3: Interventions

Setting goals and objectives is a huge step in a depression treatment plan, but unfortunately, goals won’t meet themselves.

Interventions are the various methods (modalities, therapies, education, etc.) a patient will pursue to help meet each identified goal.

Four main interventions occur to help treat depression. For each case, one or more of these interventions may be used — interventions will vary from client to client.


A small variety of antidepressants have been evidenced to be most effective for reducing symptoms of depression by greater than 50% after using for eight weeks, including:

  • Escitalopram
  • Mirtazapine
  • Paroxetine
  • Venlafaxine
  • Amitriptyline

Antidepressants are commonly classified as:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Atypical antidepressants
  • Serotonin modulators

For initial treatment, the use of antidepressants is often combined with psychotherapy.


Also known as ‘talk therapy,’ psychotherapy can be useful for minimizing symptoms of depression. There are many forms of possible psychotherapies clinicians can explore:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a “solutions-oriented” form of talk therapy that focuses on the idea that thoughts and perceptions can influence behaviors. 

Through CBT, professionals aim to identify harmful thoughts, assess whether they’re accurate depictions of reality, and employ strategies to challenge and overcome them.

  1. Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a time-limited, focused, evidence-based approach to treating mood disorders, like depression. The focus of IPT is to improve relationships and social functioning while reducing overall distress.
  2. Behavioral therapy focuses on relationships between mood and behavior that may lead to difficulties with functioning.
  3. Cognitive therapy helps to modify unwanted ways of thinking to disrupt and reduce these thoughts and their interference with daily life.
  4. Mindfulness - based cognitive therapy combines cognitive therapy with mindful meditation to help modify unhelpful thoughts and instead create a more loving self-view.
  5. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the therapeutic relationship to help understand challenges, improve self-awareness, and develop adaptive patterns of functioning.
  6. Supportive therapy focuses on helping patients understand their experience in their current situation and works to strengthen their ability to make choices that help them cope with life’s stressors.


With many conditions, simple changes to a person’s lifestyle can help create a better and long-term impact, whether it be mental, physical, or both.

Lifestyle interventions will vary from patient to patient, but they might often include some of the following interventions.

When it comes to creating a depression treatment plan, focusing on lifestyle changes can be crucial:

  • Increase physical activity
  • Minimize (or quit) smoking
  • Work interventions like wellness programs or resilience training
  • Dietary changes
  • Increase quality of sleep
  • Increase social support and outings
  • Increase time in green space

Alternative Treatments

Some patients may respond better to alternative treatments found to be beneficial for those suffering from depression, like:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture

Most often, these alternative treatments are used in conjunction with other interventions like medication and therapy.

#4: Progress Evaluation

Tracking progress for clients with depression is critical, and it may be difficult to do with dozens (if not more) clients and endless paperwork for each.

With Ritten, following a depression treatment plan and accurately tracking each patient’s progress is simple.

Through our software, clinicians can create and modify documentation for each patient’s depression treatment plan, take notes, add interventions, and more. Everyone involved in the treatment plan can access and edit the plan’s notes, assessments, and documents to help ensure progress is being made.

Treatment Plan Example for Depression

A treatment plan for depression might look like this. 

Problem: I’m experiencing anxiety multiple times a week that affects completing daily life tasks, and I’m also experiencing symptoms of depression.

Goal: I want to decrease my anxiety symptoms and complete daily tasks more easily and more efficiently.

Objective #1: Identify and list triggers that lead to anxiety and symptoms of depression.

Date established:                    Targeted completion:                       Date completed:

Objective #2: Document the history of mental health issues and note any previous treatment attempts, strategies, and medications.

Date established:                    Targeted completion:                        Date completed:

Objective #3: Work with a therapist to expose and extinguish irrational thoughts that lead to anxiety and symptoms of depression. 

Date established:                     Targeted completion:                       Date completed:

Objective #4:  Write out a mental health treatment plan.      

Date established:                     Targeted completion:                        Date completed:

Interventions: Clinicians will work to teach the client how to verbalize communication strategies that can help decrease anxiety. Therapists will provide therapy to identify past conflicts, expose and extinguish anxiety triggers, and help develop reality-based messages that lead to self-confidence. Interventions are to be observed during the client’s therapy sessions.

Frequency: 60 minutes per week

Duration: Six months

Why Are Treatment Plans for Depression Important to Insurance Companies?

Insurance companies are tasked with ensuring that patients receive the treatments for depression that they require from a qualified professional at a fair price. 

Using treatment plans for depression and all that comes with a treatment plan — elements of treatment being addressed, progress notes, how often treatment is occurring — helps insurance reviewers determine if they should or should not approve, extend, or discontinue a particular depression treatment plan for a patient.

It’s common for insurance companies to require a copy of the depression treatment plan, or any behavioral or mental health treatment plan, to pay for treatments. 

Unless you’re comfortable paying for your depression treatment out of pocket, ensuring your clinicians utilize a detailed treatment plan for depression is critical.

Ritten Offers Simplified EMR Software for Managing Treatment Plans for Depression

A lot of important information and details are required when creating a treatment plan for depression that are crucial for both the client and clinician and insurance companies. 

Having a customizable and streamlined way to create, track, and utilize treatment plans for depression is easier than ever with Ritten, a simplified EMR software for behavioral and mental health professionals.

Our software allows users to easily create, modify, and share unique documentation — including treatment plans for depression — and helps to create a seamless workflow for everyone involved.

Book a demo with Ritten today to get started.

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