CBT For Depression
Depression is something that many people will have to deal with at some point in their lifetime.
Statistics indicate that nearly 15 million adults in the United States alone suffer from symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder.
Life can be a series of peaks and valleys for many of us and dealing with the stresses that come up in every day life can leave you feeling far less than 100% at times. If a feeling of despair has set in that you just can’t shake, then you may be suffering from depression, CBT For Depression can help.
However, if you are feeling down and just have that hopelessness that seems to dominate your life and everything you do, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be a tremendous help and restore the quality of life that you used to enjoy. CBT can be a very effective treatment for depression and is used both as an alternative to medication, as well as in conjunction with medication to treat major depression. Let’s take a look at the types of depression and what CBT actually is and how it’s used in the treatment of depression.
There are several types of depression and CBT can effectively be used to treat all of them.
- Major Depression. With major depression an individual suffers from major symptoms for a two week period or longer. This type of depression can be so debilitating that it will interfere with a person’s ability to eat, work, and especially sleep. Sometimes this type of depression occurs after a tragedy or traumatic life event like a death in a family or a major life change such as the end of a job or relationship.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder or PDD. In the past PDD was known as dysthymia and it is generally less severe than major depression, but last much longer. PDD occurs over a period of at least two years and exhibits many of the same symptoms as major depression such as stress, irritability and just an overall inability to enjoy life.
- Bipolar Disorder. This type of depression usually manifests itself in mood swings and might involve very severe or mild highs, but also crushing lows.
There are many signs of depression that you should be aware of. Most people who experience depression, experience a combination of these symptoms:
-Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable
-Feeling of helplessness
-Appetite changes. Eating much more or far less than usual
-Lack of concentration on regular tasks and jobs
-Negative thoughts that are uncontrollable
-Excessive drinking of alcohol
-Drug use, both illegal and prescription
-Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
-Random, unexplained aches and pains
So now that we have identified what depression is and some of the symptoms, lets take a look at Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and what it does.
CBT is a type of psychotherapy that serves to modify your thought patterns to improve your behaviors and moods. CBT originated in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and is a blend of cognitive and behavioral therapy where a therapist helps the patient to identify negative thought patterns and responses to stressful situations. CBT is basically a way of talking about how your actions affect your thoughts and feelings and also how you perceive yourself, as well as how you perceive other people and the world around you.
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Treatment involves helping the patient to develop more constructive ways of coping with stressors. The result of this is the elimination or at least the minimization, of upsetting behaviors or disorders. The focus of CBT is to improve your state of mind, right now, immediately, in the present, rather than focusing on the past.
CBT therapy involves several things:
- Meeting with a therapist for anywhere from 5-20 weekly (or even bi-weekly) sessions that each last from ½ hour to 60 minutes.
- Sessions 2-4 will be where the therapist will determine whether CBT therapy is right for you and if you feel comfortable with the treatment.
- The therapist will delve into your past and your background simply to help you understand how it may be affecting your current state of mind.
- You make all the decisions on what you need and what you choose to deal with.
- You and your therapist agree upon what is to be discussed during each session.
- Your problems are then broken down into different parts. You might be asked to keep a diary to help identify emotions and thoughts, as well as your actions and feelings.
- Your therapist will then look at these behaviors along with you to see how they affect you and your life. The therapist can help to identify if they are unrealistic or unhelpful and then figure out how to make the necessary changes.
- You will often be given homework. This homework will be the practical application of making changes in your every day life.
- You will have the opportunity to discuss your progress during every meeting with your therapist. If a certain task or aspect is not working for you, you will be able to discuss and find an alternative solution.
- You will never be made to do anything that you don’t want to do. You will be able to dictate the pace of the therapy and also determine how you will continue to practice and develop these learned skills once therapy is done.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a shorter term approach than other therapies that are used to treat depression. Usually 5-20 session is enough to allow you and your therapist to identify situations and make changes that will improve the quality of your life. Your therapist will look at these situations that may be causing your depression and together you will tackle the current patterns that are the source of the problem.
Depression is a very common condition and it is very serious one as well. If you are reading this, you probably already know how debilitating it can be and how it can impact not only your life, but the life of those around you. Depression negatively impacts our society as a whole, but you are not alone. The good news is that CBT can provide a new lease on life for those suffering from depression, and do so in a shorter period of time.