Treatment for depression and Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) is a heavily researched psychotherapy that has shown to be effective for many people for the treatment of depression. It has also been shown to be effective for many people with different psychiatric issues. It was originally developed by Aaron Beck, M.D. to treat depression. One of the major ideas behind this therapy is that how we think about things can have a strong effect on our moods. If we have thoughts such as “I am a failure”, “I am worthless”, “I am less then”, you are more likely to feel down in the dumps. If we could figure out a way of dealing with these thoughts other then buying into them we might be able to get out of the funk we are in. It is often easy to see these thoughts as the truths about ourselves. We have been able to develop some wonderful techniques to help us out of the rut of buying into these unhelpful thoughts. One example of a technique used in the treatment of depression is to ask yourself, in a very meticulous manner, what evidence do you have the thought “I am a failure” is true and what evidence do you have it is false. Often times when I have used this treatment technique with the people I work with they come to the conclusion, after looking at all the evidence, that they failed at some things and have succeeded at others. This takes you out of thinking in a black and white manner and you can yourself in a more flexible, compassionate way.

When your depression is more than a mild one you may find that you are become less active and withdrawn. The original intent of nature may have been to keep us withdrawn so we could save energy and be safe. However, it turns out that withdrawing often times makes us feel worse and fuels the depression. With this in mind it could be much more helpful to learn to get back into the swing of things even when you do not feel like it. Many people who practice CBT would work with you around how to start the process of getting the more satisfying parts of your life back as well as direct yourself to work on the things we all could be resistant to do: clean the house, pay the bills, throw out the garbage etc.

Learning better communication skills may also be part of your process of reducing your depression. I have often recommended to people I have worked with to read David Burn’s, M.D. The Feeling Good Handbook. This is an excellent book that has good chapters on how to communicate more effectively as well as many chapters covering Cognitive Behavioral therapy.