CBT Therapy for Depression
What is Depression?
Depression can be described as a persistent feeling of unhappiness, and a loss of motivation and interest in the things in life you used to enjoy. Feeling sad and hopeless about your life situation, the future, and the world around you. It is completely normal to experience sadness or a low mood from time to time. However, someone who is depressed will notice their low mood persist for two weeks or more. The intensity of your low mood may vary throughout the day, and it is generally accompanied by a sense of hopelessness and despondency
It is also common for someone who is depressed to experience anxiety, such as worrying about the future, or that things might not get better. If you experience depression, you may also notice that it affects your energy levels and motivation to get things done. Daily tasks can feel like a big effort to accomplish. This is due to the physical symptoms associated with depression, such as feelings of lethargy or changes in sleeping patterns (sleeping too much or too little). Also, feelings of guilt and self-blame are common to someone who is depressed, which are accompanied by self-attacking/self-critical thoughts and low self-esteem.
Depression and ‘Overthinking’ (Rumination)
If you are depressed you will probably experience overthinking, in particular thinking negatively about your problems. When we are depressed we are genuinely trying to solve our problems by thinking them through, however this can get us stuck in negative thinking patterns known as ‘rumination’. This includes dwelling on how difficult life is, the things that distress you, and the worry that things might not get better. It is a thought process whereby we get stuck thinking repeatedly about the same things. I call it the ‘washing machine’ or the ‘hamster wheel’ of the mind. We get stuck in a loop by going through the same distressing scenarios in our mind over and over.
We all ruminate from time to time to solve our problems, and this can be helpful especially if it leads us to take an action to solve a problem. However, excessive rumination is ‘problem solving’ in overdrive. When we ruminate excessively, we are sincerely trying to solve our problems, we are trying to make things better so that we can feel better. But the problem is that rumination keeps us stuck on particular past scenarios or problems almost as if we are continuously reliving them in the present moment. We do not actually solve our problems, but instead we maintain our feelings of hopelessness and despondency. It keeps us stuck in a rut and prevents us from taking actions that could help us to improve our situation and wellbeing.
How can CBT help with Depression?
Cognitive Behavioural psychotherapy is recommended as the treatment of choice for mild to moderate depression by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE). For more severe or major depression a combination of CBT and medication is recommended by the NICE Guidelines.
As a talking therapy for depression, CBT is a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioural therapy. Cognitive therapy works with your thoughts or perceptions to improve your mood. Treatment involves learning more balanced and helpful ways to cope with low mood and patterns of negative, self-critical and self-defeating thoughts.
In CBT, we identify habitual thought patterns that serve to maintain low mood, keeping you locked into a cycle of negative thinking. These habitual self-defeating and unhelpful thought patterns are the types of thoughts we have when we ruminate. Common symptoms of depression also comprise of low motivation or energy and a decreased capacity to experience pleasure. In CBT, we find ways to address these symptoms by helping you to improve energy levels in your day to day life so that you can once again enjoy the things in life that matter to you.
If you are experiencing five or more of the following symptoms for a period of more than two weeks then please get in touch, you are not alone:
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you would like to to book an appointment don’t hesitate to get in touch on our contact form below, or phone us at 086 840 3722.