How to Treat Depression Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
The term depression has been used so frequently in today’s culture that it has now come to mean any feeling of sadness or lack of energy.
However, depression is much more serious.
Depression is an extremely difficult and complex illness. There are a many ways to deal with it.
One of the most prominent and effective methods used by multiple individuals and therapist is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Today, you’re going to discover how to treat your depression without medication, using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT.
Ready? Let’s get started!
DISCLAIMER: The ideas and techniques in this article are not intended as a substitution for consultation with a qualified health professional.
Cognitive-Behavioral therapy CBT
You feel the way you think.
Depression usually results from the negative way we think about things and not from the circumstances of your life.
The negative statement and criticism you’re feeding your mind would make anyone unhappy.
By changing the way you think, you can change the way you feel
Cognitive-Behavioral therapy CBT is based on the principle that that our thoughts determine our feelings and behaviors. By gaining better control over your thoughts, you’ll be able to change your feelings and behavior.
So, CBT employs different techniques that aim to change the way you think which in turn changes your emotions and your behavior.
Depression, also known as “common cold of mental illnesses” because of how prevalent it is, negatively affects an individual’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
People suffering from depression, struggle to even get out of bed in the morning, much less do anything productive.
There are over six major types of depression, each with different causes.
- Major Depression
- Persistent Depression
- Manic Depression
- Perinatal Depression
- Atypical Depression
- Situational Depression
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Depression
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a wide and complex treatment helps in treating a variety of mental illnesses, depression being one of them.
CBT handles the thought pattern, emotions, and behavioral aspects of the individual. It helps them become more positive and dwell less on the negative side of everything.
1. Major Depression
Major Depression is one of the most common forms of depression with approximately 17.3 million adults suffering from it in the US alone.
It is also termed as “Major Depressive Disorder”, “Unipolar Depression”, or “Classic Depression”.
This type of depression is characterized by:
- Too much grief or gloom,
- Fatigue, tiredness and lack of energy most of the time,
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements,
- Sleeping disturbance including insomnia or sleeping too much,
- Loss of interest in activities that once excite you,
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, or tearfulness,
- experiencing anxiety, agitation or restlessness, and
- Contemplating about self-harm or suicide in some cases.
Major Depression does not typically stem from a person’s surroundings or situation. And it can last for as long as a week or even throughout a person’s entire lifetime.
Major Depression can keep you from enjoying yourself and isolate you from others.
So how do you overcome it?
CBT and Major Depression
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy touches on the most important aspects of a person’s life, which are their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
CBT helps you alter negative thoughts into positive ones, which positively impacts your emotions and behaviors.
Cognitive restructuring helps depressed individuals deal with their “negative automatic thoughts” and replace them with more positive ones. Here’s how you can do that on your own:
* Assess your situation and look for the negative aspect that is causing this depression. Describe your negative emotions and thoughts in a journal and rate their intensity.
* Pay attention to your negative automatic thoughts – the ones that you automatically think of whenever you encounter a difficult situation.
* Examine these thoughts and evaluate how realistic they are. Change them with more positive and realistic ones.
* Repeat the process as much as needed.
If you feel that things become too hard for you to handle, you should talk to a therapist to help you regain more control.
2. Persistent Depression
Persistent Depression, also known as “dysthymia” or “chronic depression”, is the most recurrent of all types of depression.
It manifests in episodes that last as long as 2 years and might return throughout a person’s lifetime.
Although it’s not as powerful as Major Depression, it can still take it own toll the person.
Some of the common symptoms of Persistent Depression include:
- Feeling of being sad and hopeless,
- Low self-esteem, self-criticism or feeling incapable,
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Sleep problems
- Lack of interest in daily activities,
- Trouble concentrating and trouble making decisions, and
- Problem of being happy during joyous occasions.
These symptoms may fade out for a while and come back later as clear and powerful as before.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you deal with a long-term depression such as persistent depression.
CBT and Persistent Depression
A common CBT technique that can help you replaces negative thoughts with positive ones is “problem analysis” also known as “situational analysis”.
This technique helps you see the problem objectively and find a positive solution for it.
* Identify the problem and understand how it works
* Identify your goal and what you want to work towards.
* Look for positive ways to reach your goal and overcome the problem.
By overcoming the problem in a positive manner, “problem analysis” helps you treat Persistent Depression.
3. Manic Depression
Also termed as “Bipolar Disorder”, Manic Depression is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood changing without any sensible reason.
These extreme mood swings include extreme emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
Most of the symptoms of Manic Depression are similar to major depression. However, indications of the manic phase may be:
- Increased self-confidence,
- Destructive behavior,
- High energy,
- Less sleep, and
- A euphoric state.
Because Manic depression or Bipolar Disorder impacts the person’s behavior, CBT can do a great job in handling this illness.
CBT and Manic Depression
Intensive CBT session along with talking with other people can help individuals with Manic Depression calm and control their mood swings.
There are a variety of CBT techniques that you can make us of if you have bipolar disorder.
Controlling Your Cognitive Distortions
This can be done by making sure you are not doing any of the following:
Overgeneralizing – by drawing conclusions because of a single instance or statement (i.e., failing one test and immediately think that you’re a stupid and you won’t succeed)
Thinking All-or-Nothing – by using absolute terms to such as never or ever. In other words, people, things or circumstances are either all good or all bad.
Taking Things Too Personally – by believing that everything unfortunate that happens is because of you (i.e. “My mother isn’t happy because I didn’t do my homework.”)
Minimizing the Positive – bydisqualifying the positive things that happen because you believe they are by luck or something else out of your control.
Maximizing the Negative – by dwelling on your own mistakes and failures so much that they keep you from being happy.
By being aware of your thinking pattern and avoiding cognitive distortion, you become more capable of controlling your thoughts and emotions.
4. Perinatal Depression
Perinatal Depression, also called as Postpartum Depression, is a depressive disorder that affects pregnant women during or after their pregnancy.
During pregnancy, hormones produced can affect the pregnant woman’s mood and causes unusual behaviors. These effect are specially increased when the mother faces difficulties after giving birth such as lack of sleep and constant care of her newborn child.
Symptoms that accompany Perinatal Depression include:
- Feelings of sadness,
- Regular anxiety,
- Worry regarding your baby’s health,
- Difficulty in caring for yourself or your baby, and
- Possibly harming one’s self or the baby.
Untreated Postpartum Depression can be extremely risky and dangerous for the mother and child’s health and well-being.
CBT helps mothers deal with their negative and unfavorable thoughts and see life more positively with new circumstances.
CBT and Postpartum Depression
There are actually a lot of different CBT techniques that help mothers suffering from Postpartum Depression. One notable CBT technique is the Thought Challenge Exercise.
Thought Challenge Exercise
The process goes like the following:
* Assess the situation objectively.
* Identify your feelings and thoughts regarding the situation.
* Challenge your thought patterns and behaviors by seeing the evidences.
* Replace these negative thoughts, emotions and behavior with more positive ones by looking for better solutions to handle things.
5. Atypical Depression
Atypical Depression is not a long-term depression. It goes away when good things happen and comes back whenever life seems to be getting down.
The term “Atypical” doesn’t refer to its rareness. It actually signify that it has different symptoms than other types of depression, such as:
- Increased appetite,
- Sleeping for more hours than usual,
- Heaviness in your body, and
- Sensitivity to comments and rejection.
CBT can be used whenever symptoms of Atypical Depression come back.
CBT and Atypical Depression
One of the most common CBT techniques that help individuals go through this depression when they’re on their own, is by exercising.
Exercising helps you relax your muscles and take your mind off of current situation.
The following are some types of exercise that may help people with atypical depression handle their depression:
* Find a specific workout that you enjoy.
* Set a specific goal that you would like to accomplish through this workout (make sure it’s easy and attainable).
* Even if you find yourself depressed or not in the mood, do it anyway.
6. Situational Depression
Situational Depression is a depression that is triggered by certain situations in life such as the death of a loved one, an abusive relationship, financial issues, etc.
Symptoms of Situational Depression may include:
- Frequent crying,
- Social withdrawal and
When left untreated, this type of depression may progress into different types of complex and serious mental illnesses and become extremely hard to handle.
CBT helps individuals find a better way to cope with their situation and focus on more favorable thought pattern.
CBT and Situational Depression
There are various CBT techniques to help you handle this kind of depression.
Journaling is quite helpful and has a calming effect. It allows you to assess your thoughts and improve your behavior and mood.
Effectively journaling your thoughts can be done in the following way:
* Assess the situation objectively.
* Write down your thoughts and feelings about the situation.
* Evaluate how realistic your thoughts are and change them into more positive ones.
* Focus on the positive side.
CBT helps individuals suffering from depression achieve a better perspective in life.
It is always worth it to be fighting battles of the mind.
By assessing the situation objectively and identifying your negative thoughts, you can challenge these thoughts and change them into more positive ones which in turns will affect your feelings and behavior.
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Portions of this article were adapted from the book Cognitive Behavioral Therapy : The 21 Day CBT Workbook for Overcoming Fear, Anxiety And Depression, © 2019 by Jacob Greene. All rights reserved.