Major Depression, Dysthymia and Bipolar Disorders
Major Depression, Dysthymia and Bipolar Disorders are among the most common types of mood disorders. Major Depression is characterized by some of the following symptoms:
- Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, emptiness, worthlessness or guilt
- Trouble concentrating or being decisive
- Feeling tired or having sleep problems
- Unintentional weight gain or loss
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 20.8% of adults will experience a mood disorder in their lifetime. Many people who have this condition never receive treatment. While anyone can experience sadness, especially after a disappointment or a loss, depressive disorders are significantly different in their intensity and their duration.
People who suffer from severe depression often experience impaired everyday functioning especially in social situations and at work. They are prone to withdrawing from social interactions and can become isolated as a result.
CBT Treatment for Depression
The good news is that most mood disorders are treatable and responsive to CBT or a combination of CBT and pharmacotherapy.
Behavioral Activation, which is frequently used in the treatment of Depression, is cited as one of the Society of Clinical Psychology’s empirically supported Interventions to treat this condition.
- Behavioral Activation
Is an intervention which focuses on interrupting the self-defeating downward cycle of feeling sad, withdrawing, and then experiencing social isolation-common to people with depression. By increasing the frequency and quality of the pleasurable activities you experience, the cycle is broken. The goal of this intervention is to increase one’s sense of mastery, decrease isolation, and improve mood. Techniques such as activity scheduling and self-monitoring of pleasurable activities are often utilized to promote or restore feelings of accomplishment.
Cognitive Restructuring is another technique employed in the treatment of depression.
This process involves identifying and modifying dysfunctional (inaccurate) Automatic Thoughts which fuel the unwanted mood state. Several types of dysfunctional Automatic Thoughts can trigger feelings of depression. For example:
When a person exaggerates the consequences of an error and believes it will negatively affect them. For example, if someone received a poor grade on a test, he/she might think: “This bad grade is awful – I can’t believe this happened. It’s a sign that my academics will go downhill from here.”
A person will assign a rigid negative label to himself or herself. In the above example, the same individual might then think of himself as “a loser” or “as stupid”.
- Comparison to Others
A person will make unfair comparisons to other people often resulting in unwarranted negative conclusions about himself or herself. In the above example, the same individual might think: “No one else did as badly on this test. Clearly I’m the only one who got a bad grade. I don’t deserve to stay in this course.”
Cognitive Restructuring is both collaborative during the sessions and practiced at home as homework using thought records and behavioral experiments.