How Can CBT Help With Depression?

Depression affects many people, and it comes in different forms. You might struggle with major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, postpartum depression, depression associated with bipolar disorder, or seasonal affective disorder. Over the years as a cognitive behavioural therapist in Billericay, I have worked with all kinds of depression, and I know that moving to a better place is never simple. With CBT, however, we have a proven, structured way of working that does, over time, enable people to see themselves and the world in a more positive light, thus alleviating their low mood.

If you are feeling out of sorts and thinking about seeking help but aren’t sure what kind of therapy to go with, here are three reasons why CBT is particularly effective for those who are going through depression.

Changing Thinking Patterns

People with depression find themselves stuck in a spiral of negative thought patterns that only serve to reinforce their low mood. When we think negative thoughts over and over again, they end up having a power over you. If you constantly say to yourself, “everyone hates me”, or “things will never get better”, this mode of thinking becomes your norm, and you start to believe what you think about yourself and others.

CBT gives us the space to challenge and rationalise these negative thoughts, helping you to understand cognitive patterns for what they are. We will look at the emotion or trigger that sits behind them, ahead of working with you to understand the actual reality of the situation. By consistently working with me to develop more rational/realistic perspectives on your own thoughts, you will build healthier patterns of thinking and not feel overwhelmed by the negative thoughts when they come.

Improving Energy and Motivation

When working with people who have depression, I focus on rewarding behavioural changes - even extremely small ones, like putting away some dishes. Depression is often characterised by a lack of motivation or low energy, meaning we often don’t engage in healthy behaviours, or struggle to change unhealthy habits. Therefore, along with restructuring cognitive patterns, our time together will involves working closely with your behaviour and creating incentives to change them for the better.

Recognising Facts and Opinions 

While the overall goal of CBT is to change your negative thought patterns into more compassionate modes of thinking, this technique is also extremely effective for managing negative ways of seeing the world in the here and now. Nobody moves past their depression overnight; the process takes time. And during this period, we will look to manage your automatically pessimistic view of yourself and others by being mindful of the difference between facts and opinions.

Together we recognise that, while you might be stuck in a depressive cycle, the thoughts you have are not facts but opinions you hold about yourself based on your emotions. If you say to yourself, “I’m a failure”, taking a fact-checking approach will help you understand that this feeling, although still present in your thinking, is not based on any empirical fact. Staying mindful of the difference between facts and opinions is an important first step in the process of using CBT to help depression.

Are you feeling low, unmotivated, or think extremely critically towards yourself and others? I am a CBT therapist in Billericay with high levels of experience in helping people with depression. Feel free to give me a call at any time and we can arrange your first session at a time that works best for you.

©2022 Sharon McHugh

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