- What is depression?
Symptoms of depression occur in several mood disorders, including Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymia (a milder but chronic mood disorder), and Bipolar disorder. Depressive symptoms can also result from medical problems and can overlap with normal states such as grief or sadness. Symptoms of depression include:
- Emotions like sadness, lack of enjoyment and satisfaction, guilt, irritability, loss of interest in others, feeling inadequate, and hopelessness
- Behaviors like not doing things that were previously enjoyable, withdrawal from others, suicidal behaviors, self-criticism and self-blame, crying
- Cognitions (thoughts) like, “I’m worthless,” “No one cares about me,” “the future is hopeless,” as well difficulty making decisions, difficulty concentrating, and repetitive negative thoughts and memories
- Physical symptoms like fatigue, insomnia or oversleeping, loss of appetite or increased appetite
- Has Cognitive Behavior Therapy been shown to be effective in treating depression?
Many dozens of randomized controlled trials have shown that CBT is more effective than no treatment (waitlist control) and as effective as antidepressant medication for treatment of depression. Cognitive behavior therapy has been shown in at least one randomized controlled trial to prevent depressive relapse more effectively than short-term antidepressant medication treatment, and at rates equal to long-term antidepressant medication treatment. It is fair to say that CBT has been shown to be effective for treating depression in more controlled studies than has any other form of psychotherapy.At the same time, two qualifications to this review of the evidence are needed. First, cognitive behavior therapy has not been shown to be superior to other forms of psychotherapy. In general, when two psychotherapies for depression are compared, results show no difference between the therapies. However, most psychotherapies have not been studied in randomized controlled trials. Second, persistent efforts and willingness to make changes in the treatment plan when first efforts are not successful, are often needed when treating depression. The current evidence indicates that combining psychotherapy and medications is the best approach for treating severe and/or chronic depression.
- What is involved in Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Depression?
CBT for depression emphasizes teaching the depressed person to identify and change the thinking (cognitions) and behaviors that accompany depressed emotions, with the notion that the cognitions, behaviors, and emotions are tightly linked, so that if the cognitions and behaviors change, the emotions will also change.In therapy sessions, the therapist will help the depressed person identify the behaviors and cognitions that, in the cognitive behavioral model, cause and maintain the symptoms, and will help the depressed person learn to shift, tolerate, change those behaviors, and to test and challenge the beliefs (such as, “I always fail,” and “No point in reaching out to others; they will reject me”) that maintain the symptoms. Therapy may also focus on helping the depressed person develop and use skills to solve overwhelming life problems, find new or regain old sources of pleasure and satisfaction, and develop skills to maintain consistent behavior in support of personal goals and values. Because depression is a recurrent disorder, therapy also emphasizes teaching the depressed person to identify and manage early signs of depression in order to prevent or limit new episodes of illness.
Click here to learn more about an empirically supported treatment for depression from the American Psychological Association.
Contact us to learn more about obtaining treatment for depression at our center.