Depression is a common and serious illness that can affect how you feel, think, and act daily. If you or a loved one are suffering from depression, you are not alone. Over 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression each year. But the good news is that depression is treatable with the correct treatment, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of psychotherapy. It is a treatment that concentrates on distorted patterns of thinking and beliefs that are the root cause of irrational thinking. CBT is a common type of talk therapy or psychotherapy, where individuals can work with a mental health counselor, psychotherapist, or therapist in a structured number of sessions.
This type of therapy helps modify our thought patterns to change our moods and behaviors. CBT is modeled on the principle that negative actions or feelings result from your current distorted beliefs and are not due to unconscious events or forces from the past.
Meeting with mental health counselors and utilizing CBT provides the opportunity for individuals to recognize inaccurate, negative thinking to resolve their problems more effectively and clearly.
CBT treatment involves discussing current stressors that may be causing negative thought patterns that may be causing your depression. In addition, the therapy involves developing new ways to deal with stressors. The aim is to find new ways to respond and change behavior patterns that lead to depression or other mental health disorders.
How does CBT work?
CBT is more of a short-term approach to therapy. CBT treatment usually is for 10 – 20 sessions, as opposed to other types of talk therapy, which can take several years to understand and treat.
The sessions will discuss current real-life scenarios that may be causing or contributing to your depression. You and your therapist together will look at each scenario and how your thinking and beliefs about this scenario may contribute to your depression. Again, it is about looking at your life and how your beliefs are causing your current response to situations.
You will begin to look closely at your feelings and reactions to day-to-day events in your life and begin to unpick why you feel the way you do about each event. By closely examining your feelings and beliefs about things that happen in your life, you can begin to identify ideas and thought patterns that may be contributing to your depression.
Your therapist will help you replace these thoughts and beliefs with more constructive thought patterns.
Can CBT Help in Treating Depression?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help treat depression in multiple ways. Depression is an episode of sadness or apathy and other symptoms that lasts at least two consecutive weeks and is severe enough to interrupt daily activities.
Depression is not a weakness, and it can and should be treated. CBT is a type of treatment that can help with depression.
Negative thinking can affect a person’s mood, sense of self, behavior, and even physical state. At the same time, CBT can help a person learn to recognize negative patterns of thought, evaluate their validity, and replace them with healthier ways of thinking.
CBT can help treat depression by these methods:
- Utilizing cognitive restructuring and focusing on the immediate present
- Focusing on specific problems in individual or group sessions
- Being goal-oriented
- Taking an educational approach to teaching patients ways to cope
- Make sure patients take an active role in their learning, in sessions, and between sessions using homework assignments
- Employing multiple strategies such as role-playing, imagery, guided discovery, and behavioral experiments
- You will work closely with a therapist to explore these thoughts and beliefs. You will take an active role in your recovery but have support along the way.
Are there any risks to CBT?
There is a minimal long-term risk with CBT. However, it can be stressful exploring painful emotions and feelings. In addition, it may be hard to look at beliefs and thought patterns you have held for a long time and why you believe those things.
It is a safe form of therapy, but you play an active role in the treatment, and so it may be difficult, but the long-term rewards far outweigh any risks with CBT.
The eventual goal of CBT is to help you deal with anxiety and stress in a much more safe and constructive way. They are tools that will help you in every area of your life.
What Are Some CBT Techniques I Can Use?
CBT can address many stressful mental health conditions such as depression, but it is essential to understand the types and functions of CBT that will best help treat the root of the cause.
Your therapist will help you understand these different CBT types and techniques that are best for you to use for your depression.
The Four Types of CBT are:
- Cognitive therapy: A type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged to treat mood disorders
- Rational Emotive: Psychotherapy focuses on resolving emotional and behavioral disturbances to lead to a more fulfilling life
- Multimodal Therapy: Approach which focuses on each modality, such as behavior, sensation, and interpersonal relationships
- Behavior Therapy: The treatment of neurotic symptoms by training a patient’s reactions to stimuli
Once the best-fitting type of CBT is chosen, a therapist can utilize nine techniques and tools to help relieve issues caused by specific types of mental health conditions.
Some examples of CBT techniques
These are some essential CBT techniques and tools that may help you. You can try them yourself or begin to understand the types of methods your therapist will work through with you to help you change the way you think and the beliefs you hold that may be unhelpful.
- Journaling – This is a way of gathering data that can include information such as the time of the mood or thought, its source, and the intensity and response to it. This technique helps identify thought patterns and determine how to change or cope with them.
- Unraveling cognitive distortions is a central goal of CBT and can be practiced without a therapist or counselor. This technique involves knowing which distortions, beliefs, or inaccurate thoughts you are most vulnerable to.
- Cognitive Restructuring – Once the distortions are identified, you can begin to understand the root cause and how you came to believe it. When a belief is destructive or harmful, you can challenge it using cognitive restructuring.
- Exposure and Response Prevention – If you suffer from OCD, this technique can be beneficial. This technique allows you to expose yourself to whatever triggers the OCD behavior and try your best to refrain from it by combining the method of journaling to write down and describe how the behavior makes you feel.
- Interoceptive Exposure – This technique is meant to treat panic and anxiety. It involves exposure to feared bodily sensations to elicit the response, activates any unhelpful beliefs associated with the sensations, maintains the feelings without distraction or avoidance, and allows new learning about the sensations to occur. It is intended to help the sufferer see that symptoms of panic are not dangerous, although they may be uncomfortable.
- Nightmare Exposure and Rescripting – This technique is similar to Interoceptive Exposure and elicits nightmares to produce relevant emotions. Once the feelings arise, the client and therapist work together to identify the desired emotion and develop a new image to accompany the desired feeling.
- Play the Script Until the End – This technique is found to be beneficial for those suffering from fear and anxiety. In this technique, a thought experiment is conducted, and a scenario is played out, imagining the worst-case scenario. Playing out these scenarios allows the individual to see that it will likely turn out okay with everything they fear.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) – This technique instructs you to relax one muscle group at a time until your entire body is in a state of relaxation. This can be done using your mind, an audiotape, or a video to re-focus your mind and calm your nerves.
- Relaxed Breathing Techniques – Bringing a sense of regularity and calmness to your breathing will allow you to approach your problems from a more balanced place, inducing practical and rational thinking.
CBT helps with depression
If you or someone you know suffers from mental health conditions such as depression, eating disorders, or PTSD, it is beneficial to understand the causes of these conditions and how CBT can help during treatment.
The Center • A Place of HOPE offers CBT as part of The Depression Treatment program and will work with you and your depression to help you move forward with your life. Contact us at The Center • A Place of HOPE today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.