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How Does CBT Help Depression?

About five percent of the adults on the planet have been diagnosed with depression. It boggles the mind to think how many others have not sought help or are unable to get such help. We’re not talking about having the occasional case of the blues. Depression is a serious mental health disorder with an alarming link to self-harm and suicidal ideation.

Fortunately, a broad range of treatment options exist. For people with mild to moderate depression levels, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has become a frontline choice — sometimes in combination with other approaches and/or medications. Let’s take a closer look at CBT and depression.

How Does CBT Work?

For starters, CBT is known for being a short-term treatment approach. Often, no more than 20 sessions are needed. The founding principles are as such:

  • Distorted thought patterns will result in distorted beliefs and thus, unhealthy behaviors
  • By identifying your counterproductive thinking, you can derail this cycle
  • From there, healthier cognition can replace the original patterns, e.g. positive self-talk and emotional regulation
  • Your CBT therapist will aim to empower you with the skills needed to repeat this corrective approach as needed

The distorted thought patterns mentioned above usually fall into categories like:

  • Overgeneralization
  • Black-and-white thinking
  • Automatically choosing negative reactions while disqualifying the positive
  • Disproportionate response to minor events
  • Predicting a negative future
  • Fixating on one negative detail
  • Taking everything personally

As you might imagine, this approach can be ideal for someone struggling with a mood disorder like depression. It’s also useful if you have friends and family members to help you keep up with therapy appointments, medications, and CBT homework assignments.

How Does CBT Help Depression?

Typically, people diagnosed with depression struggle with a negative view of themselves, their world, and their future. This can get them locked into the thinking traps listed above. CBT, therefore, is tailor-made for such a case.

woman of color looking at her reflection in a glass window smilingSomething must be done to short-circuit the depressive spiral. Left unchecked, it can drag a person down into a dark place. CBT aims to help them recognize the causes and effects. At the same time, CBT homework makes people with depression more aware of how much control they have. This combination has been found effective in:

  • Improving the person’s mood and keeping it consistent
  • Increasing the amount of positive self-belief the client experiences
  • Promising carry-over thanks to the CBT “homework” between sessions

Depression is notorious for giving someone the feeling that they lack agency, e.g., life is bad, and nothing they do can change it. Conversely, CBT demystifies the process of understanding how one’s thoughts can be controlled, which, in turn, controls one’s beliefs, moods, and actions.

CBT is Not Necessarily For All People With Depression

Almost always, CBT is safe and effective. However, some co-existing conditions or circumstances could shift that equation. If you are depressed but also present with any of the below issues, be sure to tell your therapist right away:

  • Substance abuse (including alcohol)
  • Psychotic disorder
  • Mental retardation

In addition, if you’re diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with suicide risk, CBT may not be considered until other steps are taken to address the urgent needs of such a diagnosis.

How Do You Know If CBT is Right For You?

First and foremost, you’ll want to consult with an experienced therapist. Every person with depression is unique. When choosing a treatment plan, a qualified therapist knows how to factor in these distinct elements. Hence, we invite you to reach out to talk and learn more about cognitive behavioral therapy. Let’s connect for a free and confidential consultation to discuss the specifics of your situation. From there, we can get you on the road to recovery and healing.

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