Therapy for Depression: Cognitive Therapy for Depression

Based on the premise that depression is experienced due to negative information being processed by the brain, and harboring dysfunctional beliefs, cognitive therapy is an active, structured and problem focused approach to treatment. It is designed to assist patients to learn to think more positively and to allow them to experience vast improvements in their motivation and behavior.

Practiced as long ago as the 1960’s cognitive therapy for depression has been studied by many professionals since this time, and it is still considered a very effective way to tackle the job of re-educating patients with depression, to live a much happier and productive life.

In general terms the treatment involves guiding the patient through a series of structured learning experiences. They are shown how to monitor and record (write down) their negative thoughts and mental images, in order to help them understand the connection between their thoughts, feelings and behavior. Through this cognitive therapy the patients will learn how to evaluate the validity of their thoughts, and to change them to a more adaptive outcome.

As the cognitive therapy for depression progresses, the patients learn how to identify, evaluate and modify their thoughts, images and behavior, to allow for more productive methods to eradicate any dysfunctional patterns that may have predisposed them to their depressive tendencies. During this therapy a therapist will also teach some adaptive coping skills like breaking down larger problems and issues, into smaller more manageable issues, that are more easily solved or dealt with by the patient.

After a brief assessment of mood and any symptoms, the cognitive therapy session would normally start with a review of any “in between sessions” tasks that the patient had to achieve, agenda setting, and other graded task assignments. An important part of the whole process is the activity scheduling, and self monitoring of pleasure, which is something commonly used during therapy to assist the patient overcome things like inertia. In turn this exposes them to many potentially rewarding experiences, and enhances the outcomes of the therapy sessions.

Typically patients will require seven or eight session of cognitive therapy, in order to gain a good understanding of the model and the skills that are involved. However this of course will differ between patients, and the depth of their depressive condition. During the initial stages of cognitive therapy for depression, patients will normally experience a large reduction in the symptoms associated with their condition. Further therapy sessions are used to evaluate and modify dysfunctional beliefs and reduce future depressive episodes.

Normally a full course of cognitive therapy for depression would be considered to be between twelve and sixteen weeks, and many patients will experience a remission of symptoms after eight to twelve sessions. However it should be noted that some more severe cases of depression can take longer to administer, and the therapist or doctor should be able to access this need relatively early into the course of therapy.

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