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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for depression. Unlike any other psychotherapy CBT is short term (time limited) and treatment focused. Problem behaviors and thinking are identified, prioritized, and are addressed.


People with depression commonly have a strong negative belief about:


  • Self: People who are experiencing depression generally has an unfavorable attitude towards himself. They are prone to feel worthless and unlovable this kind of negative thinking patterns is called negative self-labeling
  • World: ‘The world is a worthless place to live’. They see the world in negative perspective, like, nobody is trustworthy, no one loves me. They blame the world to a greater extent.
  • Future: People with depression are usually not hopeful about the future improving. They believe that their present suffering will continue to be the same in future as well. They see current suffering as proof of future suffering and over generalize the situation.


Research finding says that the negative core beliefs and thoughts are the main reason for depression. The goal of the therapy is to help a person to recognize his/her negative patterns of thought, evaluate their validity, and replace them with healthier ways of thinking, in a way it changes the patterns of behavior that come from dysfunctional thinking. Behavior and negative thoughts predispose an individual to depression and make it more impossible to escape its downward spiral. According to CBT practitioners and researchers when patterns of thought and behavior are changed automatically one can see a change in mood.


CBT is based on two specific tasks: One is the cognitive restructuring, where the therapist and the patient work together to change the thinking patterns, and the other one being behavioral activation — where the patients learn to overcome the obstacles and participate in enjoyable activities.


Cognitive restructuring is the process in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy of identifying and as well changing the inaccurate negative thoughts that contribute to the development of depression. The idea in CBT is to learn to recognize the negative thoughts and thus find a healthier way to view the condition. The ultimate aim is to discover the underlying predictions out of which those thoughts arise and evaluate them.


Behavioral activation is another goal of CBT that aims to help clients engage more often in pleasurable activities and help them in developing problem-solving skills.

One major symptom of depression is the loss of interest in things that were once found enjoyable. A person with depression stops doing things because he or she thinks it’s not worth the effort. But this only deepens the depression.

In CBT, the therapist usually helps the patient to schedule their enjoyable experiences, often with the other people who can reinforce the enjoyment. Part of the process is looking at obstacles to taking part in that experience and deciding how to get past those obstacles by breaking the process down into smaller steps.


Following is a case study on how CBT works for depression. (Note: This is just an example for better understanding)


A woman called Anamika walked into the therapist X room with complaints of decreased sleep, loss of interest in daily activities and tried to run away from family.


Anamika was 42 years aged lady who was a mother of two children and she was working in the same IT firm where his husband was working too.


Anamika did not have a very good childhood. Her mother was a lawmaker and father was an alcohol addict. While she was growing up she missed her mother’s love and care very much, as her mother’s work demanded to be away from home most of the times. From then she decided that she should be a perfect mother for her kids and always be around then when they needed her.


Anamika was doing very well in her profession and won many awards for the same. But after her son was born she realized that she was not able to spend more time with her kids as she got busy with her work. She had a strong belief about being a perfect mother has to be and when she could not meet her own expectation, she blamed and labeled herself as the worst mother.


As days passed she stopped going to work, but could not be happy with her kids too, because she loved her work which is missing now and started hating herself saying she was a failure and good for nothing. This scenario worsened as the day passed by.


She was diagnosed with depression


Here the role of a CBT therapist is to help the client identify her negative core belief i.e to be a perfect mother, distort(shoulds, self-blame, and labeling) and restructure them with more desirable ones i.e  I shall try to be a good mother to my kids. I will find ways to find a balance between work and life.
It is the role of the therapist to take the client through this journey. Here the therapist might use many techniques to achieve the goal. Like encouraging the client to maintain a thought record daily, including Socratic questioning, role playing, imagery, guided discovery, and behavioral experiments.

Anyone with mild or moderate depression can potentially benefit from CBT, even without taking medication. A number of studies have shown CBT to be at least as effective as antidepressants in treating mild and moderate depression.


Wake up before it’s too late….
Start the journey to wellness from depression today! It is only one call away to change your life. If you or someone you know is depressed, it is advisable you have them diagnosed with a good psychologist who can treat depression. Call us @+91 9611194949 right away to book an appointment with our best psychologists to get the best treatment options to treat depression and live a productive life.


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