There are a range of ways to deal with depression, and often they are best used in conjunction with each other. The primary medical options are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), antidepressant medication, and in some severe cases, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). Education and coping strategies are also important when learning to manage your depression.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an excellent treatment for depression, alone or in conjunction with medication. CBT involves learning:
to control the negative thoughts that lead to loss of interest and feelings of worthlessness;
to combat the emotions of sadness and hopelessness, and;
Loss of energy, even when not physically active.
to counteract the behaviours related to poor concentration and thoughts of death
Techniques for problem solving are also taught whether the problem is a consequence or cause of the depression. CBT is very effective and 80% of people with mild, moderate or severe depression improve.
CBT will often be recommended when:
The depression is mild, moderate, or severe.
The person has had a prior positive response to CBT.
A competent, trained clinician who has expertise in CBT is available, or the person is prepared to use internet CBT.
There is a medical contraindication to taking medications.
The depressed person prefers CBT or iCBT.
WHAT IS CBT?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a method of treatment for psychological disorders, that takes a practical, task-based approach to solving problems.
It is designed to help change negative thoughts and behaviours, by providing more positive and fulfilling solutions.
The focus of CBT is to address symptoms while they are present, and to learn skills and techniques that can be used in the ongoing improvement of mental health.
HOW DOES CBT WORK?As the name suggests, cognitive behavioural therapy works by teaching a person to change their thoughts (cognition) and their behaviours. The aim is to assess the negative thoughts a person is having about themselves, and their view of the world, and to replace them with more positive and constructive thoughts and behaviours. By addressing the thoughts and behaviours which contribute to the development and maintenance of problems, CBT seeks to offer a holistic approach to mental health care.
In its simplest form, CBT requires only two things: learning and doing. A person undertaking CBT will learn coping skills and techniques, both ones that are pertinent to their health issue, and more general ones that will help with everyday life. They will learn about their health condition, and how it is being maintained. This aspect of CBT is founded on the adage that knowledge is power. The more someone knows about their own disorder, the better equipped they will be to recognise its symptoms and do something about it.
With this knowledge, a person will then be equipped to actively change their behaviours. They will be able to face their fears, or to deal with situations that they were previously unable to deal with. CBT seeks to enforce this relationship between knowledge and activity, in order for a person to take practical steps to alleviate their symptoms and to recover.