The Techniques and Benefits of Cognitive Therapy Treatment for Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. Over one in eight people will experience a depressive episode once during their life. Cognitive Therapy is one way to treat depression and there are many techniques and benefits of Cognitive Therapy treatment for depression.
A common symptom for many people dealing with depression is negative thoughts. Although that might not sound like a big deal, negative thoughts become a huge hindrance day to day.
All too often, depressed people are told to suck it up and just force themselves to be happy. They are told to simply get over it and stop being sad. While this advice is extremely unhelpful and sounds crude, there is a small amount of truth behind it. Positive thinking (or at least not focusing on the negative all the time) can help to correct and manage depression, but it is not as simple as looking for the bright side of things. Deliberately modifying one’s thought patterns with the intent to change them is known as cognitive therapy and can be extremely effective when used as part of a treatment plan with a licensed therapist.
Before knowing how Cognitive Therapy works, it is important to understand that those with depression lack the ability to let themselves feel positive emotions. The good feelings are there, but they are unable to comprehend and process them. The feelings are dampened by thoughts like “I don’t deserve to be happy” or the idea that the happiness is only temporary. People who suffer from depression are known to say that they prefer not to get their hopes up at all; they are saving themselves the pain of disappointment by already having a negative outlook. They cannot be disappointed because they didn’t have any expectations to be dashed.
So, what is cognitive therapy and how does it help people dealing with depression? Well, basically, Cognitive Therapy is a short-term approach that helps patients learn how to recognize and correct unhelpful behaviors and thoughts. It is a treatment that the client can use in and out of a therapist’s office.
The following are ways a therapist might help their client overcome depression using cognitive therapy techniques:
Identify the source.
Depressive thoughts are triggered by something. There is often a subconscious belief about oneself that perpetuates negative thoughts as well as specific circumstance that will give strength to negative thinking. Learning to identify triggers helps clients develop awareness of ideas happening within the self, and with that awareness clients can learn to change how they think about themselves. There is a big difference in the mind saying, “You can do it” versus “You are worthless and will never achieve what you want in life.” One statement empowers people and the other statement fills the mind with self-doubt.
Actively search for the positive.
This isn’t to say that people should force themselves to pretend they are happy when they are not. It is about giving one the permission to feel. Rather than dampening the positive emotions when they occur, one is encouraged to recognize that they are feeling happy or that something good is happening to them… and that happiness is okay. Happiness does not mean that something bad is going to happen. This is called a distorted thought.
Find new positive thoughts daily.
Whether it is writing down the good things that happened during the day or simply changing the way the bad things are viewed, it is important to keep a fresh and continual stream of positive thoughts floating through your brain. Yes, this can be difficult as a depressed mind is not one that is prone to keeping up a balanced outlook, but long-term depressive symptoms will decrease with continued effort to think less negatively and more positively. A therapist is your best asset to help you work through negative thoughts and find a more balanced way to think.
Learn to accept disappointment.
Grim as it sounds; disappointment is a part of life. However, it is how a person deals with that disappointment that is important. Rather than falling into despair, thinking that things will never get better, clients receiving Cognitive Therapy are encouraged to remember that some things cannot be controlled. In time, clients learn from their experiences and use these experiences to grow and change.
Discover how to be mindful and relax.
Mindfulness is about being aware and calm in one’s own mind. There are lots of meditation techniques that can be used to treat depression. Learning how to find that calm, quiet place in the mind where peace can be achieved can help clear out depressive thoughts from the brain.
There are many different treatments available to treat depression such as medication, psychotherapy, mindfulness and even updated versions of electroconvulsive therapy. Depression is complex and the treatment for depression varies person to person because the cause of depression is different for everyone. These tools and more, when utilized with a licensed therapist, treat depression.
Depression treatment requires patience and persistence. Cognitive behavior therapy is a great option for people dealing with depression and negative thoughts. The techniques learned during Cognitive Therapy can then be utilized outside of the therapist’s office, allowing the client freedom and control.