While depression is one of the most common mood disorders, it can also be resistant to improvement through traditional talk therapy. While there are many ways that therapists can help their clients improve the symptoms of depression, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) offers some of the best results. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all closely related, and making a change in one of these areas will ripple out to impact the others. This basic idea can be applied differently depending on the client’s needs. For depression, there are numerous CBT techniques therapists use with their clients. In this blog, you can learn more about our therapists’ top five ways of overcoming depression with CBT techniques.
1 – Behavioral Activation
The thought process behind behavioral activation is simple. By changing behaviors, a person can improve their mood and thinking. For instance, consider the way that listening to sad music makes you feel sad. The act of listening to the music creates a specific mood within the person who hears it. In the same way, behavioral activation can be utilized to improve mood and negative thinking associated with depression. As anyone who struggles with depression knows, even getting out of bed can be a big success on the worst days, so the types of behavioral activation therapists use involve simple tasks that make you feel better. So, in the example above, change that sad music to some happier tunes, and you may start to feel a better. Another form of behavioral activation is simply breaking overwhelming tasks or goals into simple, achievable steps. This allows a feeling of accomplishment after completing each small step rather than a feeling of hopelessness related to failing to complete a large project. You can also reward yourself for completing activities. As you plan out tasks for the day that are good for you, like going to the store or showering, you should give yourself a reward of something you enjoy when the task is done. This provides a double sense of joy through completing a task and getting the reward.
2 – Journaling
Journaling is another behavior that reduces the effects of depression, but in addition to simply improving mood through the behavior of journaling, it also offers some additional benefits. Making time to write down and explore thoughts and feelings allows people to find a greater sense of clarity and increased self-awareness related to their feelings of depression. Your therapist can even give you writing prompts to explore the ways that depression impacts you.
3 – ABC Analysis
ABC analysis is a CBT process that allows people to explore the negative behaviors related to depression like sleeping all day, avoiding loved ones, or failing to follow through on tasks. This form of CBT encourages people to consider the “Activating” event that prompted the depressed behavior, explore the “Beliefs” about the event that may have triggered the behavior, and consider “Consequences” of the event and the behaviors it prompts. As you think through these three aspects of the behavior that occurred related to depression, keep in mind you should be continually fact checking your thoughts. Are these thoughts based in fact, opinion, or assumption? Consider how assumptions and opinions can shield you from seeing the truth in given situations and negatively impact behavioral and emotional response.
4 – Cognitive Restructuring
Similarly, a therapist may work with you to engage in cognitive restructuring. This form of CBT focuses on thoughts. You’ll work to identify patterns of negative thinking and understand the way the tone of self-talk leads to unhealthy or unhelpful thoughts called cognitive distortions that make depression symptoms worse.
5 – Meditation & Mindfulness
Finally, adding a meditation or mindfulness practice to your day can be an effective aspect of CBT. These practices alleviate the focus on depressive feelings and negative thinking. Meditation improves the ability to focus on the present moment and move out of the thoughts and emotions that pull you out of that sense of centeredness.
Schedule a Session
If you’re interested in learning more about CBT and the many benefits of this therapy approach for improving depression symptoms, the knowledgeable team members at The Center for CBT in New York City would love to hear from you. You can get in contact with us over the phone at (917) 596-8955 or by completing our online scheduling request form.