Disclosure: As a BetterHelp affiliate, we receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided.

Shame is a complex emotion that can be debilitating, and when combined with depression, it can lead to a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and feelings.

Many people who struggle with shame and depression find it challenging to seek help, often feeling overwhelmed and alone in their struggles. However, seeking the support of a psychotherapist can be a valuable step toward overcoming shame and depression.

What is shame-based depression?

Shame is an emotion that arises when we feel that we have failed to live up to our expectations or the expectations of others. It is often accompanied by feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and humiliation. When shame is prolonged and becomes chronic, it can lead to depression.

Shame can lead to depression through several mechanisms. One of the main ways is through negative self-talk and self-criticism. When someone experiences shame, they may internalize the belief that they are inherently flawed or unworthy.

This can lead to a constant stream of negative thoughts about oneself, which can contribute to feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and despair, all of which are hallmark symptoms of depression.

Additionally, shame can lead to social isolation and withdrawal. People who feel ashamed may believe that they are not worthy of love or connection, leading them to avoid social interactions and relationships. This social isolation can also contribute to depression.

Shame can also interfere with a person’s ability to experience pleasure and positive emotions. When someone is caught in a shame cycle, they may have difficulty feeling joy or happiness, which can make it difficult to engage in activities they once enjoyed. This loss of pleasure can be a contributing factor to depression.

Finally, shame can lead to a sense of powerlessness and lack of control over one’s life. When someone feels ashamed, they may believe that they are not capable of making positive changes in their life or achieving their goals. This sense of helplessness can contribute to feelings of depression.

Image Credit: bewellbetter.com

Treatment of shame-based depression

One of the most important steps in getting help for shame-based depression is to reach out to a mental health professional. A therapist or counselor can provide a safe and supportive space to explore the underlying causes of shame and depression and work on developing coping strategies to manage these feelings.

They can also help individuals develop self-compassion and challenge negative self-talk, which can be a crucial component of recovery.

In addition to professional help, there are also many support groups and online communities that can provide valuable resources and support. These groups can be a safe place to share experiences and connect with others who may be going through similar struggles.

Self-help techniques can also be effective in managing shame-based depression. Practicing self-care, such as exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough rest, can help to improve mood and reduce stress. Mindfulness and meditation practices can also be helpful in reducing feelings of shame and developing a more compassionate self-view.

It’s important to remember that recovery from shame-based depression is possible and that reaching out for help is a sign of strength. With the right support and resources, individuals can learn to manage their feelings of shame and develop a more positive sense of self.

How can psychotherapy help with shame-based depression?

Psychotherapy is a form of talk therapy that aims to help individuals explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It provides a safe space for individuals to share their experiences without fear of judgment or shame.

Psychotherapists use a variety of techniques to help individuals with shame and depression, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. CBT can help individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns that contribute to shame and depression. Through CBT, individuals can learn to reframe their negative thoughts and replace them with more positive and constructive ones.

Psychodynamic therapy is a type of therapy that explores the underlying causes of shame and depression. It helps individuals uncover unconscious thoughts and feelings that may be contributing to their shame and depression.

Through psychodynamic therapy, individuals can develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their experiences, which can lead to healing and growth.

Mindfulness-based therapy is a type of therapy that encourages individuals to be present in the moment and non-judgmental of their thoughts and feelings. Through mindfulness-based therapy, individuals can learn to observe their thoughts and feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them. This can help individuals develop a sense of compassion and self-acceptance, which can be helpful in overcoming shame and depression.

Psychotherapists for shame-based depression

Below are some psychotherapists whom you may want to consider if you are struggling with shame and depression.

1. Elizabeth Ehrenberg

Elizabeth Ehrenberg is a licensed clinical social worker and somatic therapist who is dedicated to providing personalized psychotherapy to individuals. Elizabeth is a graduate of The Psychotherapy Institute’s Group Therapy Training Program and has presented multiple workshops at the annual conferences of both The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) and the Northern California Group Psychotherapy Society (NCGPS).

With a compassionate and collaborative approach, she helps people who are dealing with issues such as shame, depression, identity challenges (including those related to sexual orientation, gender, race, profession, and age), LGBTQQIA issues, trauma (including vicarious trauma), artistic processes, a family of origin issues, grief, and loss.

In addition to her work with individuals, Elizabeth has significant experience as a group therapist. She has led a variety of support groups over the past 13 years, including those for individuals with eating disorders, DBT skills groups, and support groups for long-term HIV+ survivors.

2.    Dr. Jane Rubin

Dr. Jane Rubin is a highly qualified and experienced psychologist who specializes in psychotherapy for anxiety, depression, shame-related issues, and life path exploration.

Her practice is located in the beautiful city of Berkeley, CA, where she has helped numerous individuals find relief from their emotional burdens and discover what truly makes them happy.

Dr. Rubin’s focus on shame and depression reflects her belief that many individuals struggle with these conditions, often due to external pressures and internal expectations. Dr. Rubin works with her clients to identify the underlying causes of shame and develop strategies to overcome it. Through her guidance, clients are able to let go of feelings of unworthiness and start living a more fulfilling life.

In her practice, she aims to provide a safe and collaborative environment in which her clients can explore their feelings and develop a better understanding of themselves. Through her compassionate approach, Dr. Rubin empowers her clients to move past their limiting beliefs and discover their true potential.

3.    Sheila Rubin

Sheila Rubin, LMFT, RDT/BCT is a master therapist with over 30 years of experience and is widely recognized as an expert in the field of healing shame.

She is an internationally sought-after keynote speaker, author, teacher, and director, offering private therapy sessions, therapist training programs, and workshops that help individuals of all backgrounds heal their self-doubt, access their creativity, and find their true voice.

As the co-director of the Center for Healing Shame in Berkeley, California, Sheila has developed a comprehensive approach to healing shame over the last two decades. She provides a full certification and training program to therapists and other helping professionals, as well as workshops that are open to the public.

Sheila’s extensive expertise, teaching, and writing contributions have been featured in numerous publications and conferences around the world. Her writings on shame include several chapters in books such as The Creative Therapies and Eating Disorders, The Use of Creative Therapies in Treating Depression and Combining the Creative Therapies with Technology: Using social media and Online Counseling to Treat Clients.

Sheila offers therapy through her private practice in Berkeley and online via Zoom. She also provides consultations to therapists via Skype and leads workshops in Berkeley, internationally, and online.

4.    Withtherapy.com

WithTherapy is an online platform that connects individuals with a diverse team of psychologists and therapists to help them address their mental health needs. The platform specializes in connecting individuals with therapists who can help them deal with a multitude of issues, including shame and depression-related issues.

To start, WithTherapy gathers critical practical details to ensure that individuals are matched with therapists who meet their specific needs. This includes taking into account their schedule, location, and other priorities to find the right candidate for them.

The platform then goes even deeper by using science-backed systems to pinpoint the ways individuals are likely to click with therapists based on what they’re struggling with.

With decades of research and experience informing their therapist selection process, WithTherapy presents individuals with a highly personalized list of therapists to choose from. The power is then placed in the hands of the individual to make highly-informed decisions about which therapist they would like to work with.

WithTherapy speeds up the time between the search and the first appointment to ensure individuals can start their therapy journey as soon as they’re ready.

5.    BetterHelp

BetterHelp is an online platform that provides accessible mental health services to people who may not have the time, resources, or inclination to attend traditional in-person therapy sessions. The platform has a team of licensed therapists who specialize in treating a range of mental health issues, including shame and depression.

BetterHelp’s licensed psychotherapists are trained to help clients identify and address the root causes of their shame and depression. Through individualized treatment plans that may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based therapy, and other evidence-based techniques, clients can learn to manage their negative thoughts and emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

BetterHelp also offers a range of communication options, including live chat, phone sessions, and video sessions, so clients can choose the method that works best for them. Clients can also choose a therapist who specializes in treating the specific mental health issues they are experiencing, including shame and depression.

Head over to their website right now to book a session with the therapist of your choice, and take the first step towards improving your life!

Breaking the shame-cycle

Breaking the shame cycle can be a challenging process, but it is possible with the right tools and support. Here are some steps you can take:

  1.  Recognize shame: The first step in breaking the shame cycle is to recognize when you are feeling shame. Shame can be a powerful emotion that can feel overwhelming and debilitating. Learn to identify when shame is present in your life, and what triggers it.
  2.  Challenge your shame: Once you recognize your shame triggers, work on challenging the negative thoughts and beliefs that fuel the shame. Identify the shame messages you tell yourself and reframe them in a more positive light. Challenge the beliefs that are causing the shame and replace them with more accurate and compassionate ones.
  3. Practice self-compassion: Self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and support, just as you would a friend. Practicing self-compassion can help you break the shame cycle by cultivating a more accepting and nurturing relationship with yourself.
  4. Reach out for support: Shame can be isolating and cause people to withdraw from others. Reach out to supportive friends or family members, or consider working with a therapist or mental health professional who can help you work through your shame.
  5. Cultivate a positive self-image: One of the most effective ways to break the shame cycle is to cultivate a positive self-image. This involves identifying and celebrating your strengths, achievements, and positive qualities. Focusing on your positive attributes can help counteract the negative self-talk that fuels shame.

Remember that breaking the shame cycle is a process that takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself, and seek out support when you need it. With time and practice, you can overcome shame and cultivate a more positive relationship with yourself.


What is chronic or toxic shame?

Chronic or toxic shame is a deep-seated sense of shame that can be persistent, pervasive, and debilitating. It is a psychological condition characterized by a pervasive feeling of inadequacy, inferiority, or unworthiness that can affect various aspects of a person’s life, including their self-esteem, relationships, and behavior.

How can chronic shame affect a person’s life?

Individuals who experience chronic or toxic shame may struggle with feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, and self-criticism, which can lead to a range of negative outcomes, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and social isolation.

What qualities should people look for in a therapist?

When searching for a therapist, people should look for qualities such as empathy, good listening skills, a non-judgmental attitude, appropriate training and credentials, trustworthiness, and cultural competence. It is also important to find a therapist with whom you have personal compatibility and rapport, as this can greatly enhance the therapeutic relationship and overall experience.

Shame-based depression can be a difficult emotion to overcome, but it is possible with the help of a psychotherapist. By addressing the underlying causes of shame and depression, individuals can develop a sense of self-acceptance and move towards a more fulfilling life.

If you are struggling with shame-based depression, consider reaching out to a psychotherapist who can help you on your journey toward healing and growth.

Additional Posts

  1. Christian Psychiatrist in Virginia
  2. Christian Psychiatrists in Austin Tx
  3. Christian Therapists in Philadelphia
  4. Christian Psychiatrist in Denver 
  5. Christian Psychiatrist in Atlanta Georgia



Therapists that Understand You!

Find a therapist that fully understands ALL of you. Speaking with someone who has a similar cultural background and view on the world can be very comforting.

Find a Therapist that get YOU!