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Condition: Depression

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Depression

Depression typically leads to a reduction in social and other rewarding activities. The less we do, the more our self-confidence reduces, making it even harder to engage in previously fulfilling activities. This can lead to self-criticism as our opinion of ourselves, others and the world in general becomes increasingly negatively biased. As a consequence our mood deteriorates yet further making it even harder to get going and improve our situation.

This self-defeating cycle may initially be tackled with CBT by clarifying the relationship between our activity levels and mood and seeking to change this in ways that can be helpful. Addressing thinking distortions and altered perceptions arising from depressed mood is also a key feature of CBT for depression. This may be achieved through learning to identify and challenge thoughts that are unfairly biased as a result of our depressed outlook but which are nevertheless powerful maintaining factors in feeding our depression.

Long-held beliefs and assumptions that we hold about ourselves can also be responsible for making us vulnerable to depression. Where this is the case, CBT works to positively influence these factors in an attempt to assist speedy recovery from a depressive episode and also to reduce risk of future relapse.

There has been a great deal of research carried out over the past 30 years that demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach in successfully tackling depression.

Depression

Depression can be triggered by a variety of obvious stresses occurring within our lives. Alternatively, it can appear to develop out of the blue, with no warning.

Depression is, sadly, very common. Studies carried out indicate that up to 25% of women and 10% of men are likely to experience an episode of depression during their lifetime. For many sufferers, there is an increased likelihood of depression occurring more than once. Developing skills in reducing this risk of relapse, and of limiting any episodes that do occur, is therefore extremely important.

If you are depressed, you will probably notice a number of changes in your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and behaviour. Main features may include:

  • Feeling tired all of the time
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
  • Finding it very hard to get going
  • Having a sense of failure, worthlessness and guilt
  • Feeling sad much of the time
  • Getting little or no enjoyment from usual pleasures
  • Thoughts of suicide and wanting to escape from everything
  • Tearfulness
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Loss of libido
  • Difficulty concentrating

Depression is often accompanied by anxiety making getting on with day to day tasks even more difficult.

Fortunately, depression is a very treatable condition. Recovery can be achieved through both pharmacological (anti-depressant medication) and psychological treatments. CBT is listed within the National Institute for Clinical Excellence Guidelines for Depression (2004) as the psychological treatment of choice for moderate to severe depression.

 

recommended reading

Overcoming Depression

Overcoming Depression: A Self-Help Guide using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques

(2000) by Paul Gilbert. Published by Constable and Robinson Ltd. More Info

the therapists

Dr Tim Sweeney

Dr Tim Sweeney

Postgraduate Diploma (Cognitive Therapy), BSc (Hons), Specialist Practitioner - Mental Health, BA (Hons), Diploma in Nursing - Mental Health... Read More

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Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that looks at how you think about yourself, the world and other people, and... Read more

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