Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Depression & Low Mood
On this page we will define what we mean by depression and low mood, outline the key forms of depression and describe how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is used to tackle problems with depressive conditions. If you want to talk to a CBT expert about problems with depression or low mood, you can call 01732 808 626, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the confidential contact form on this page. All contacts are handled in a confidential, discrete and sensitive manner.
We all have periods of high and low mood and this is part of the normal emotional range. Feeling down or sad for a few hours can sometimes just reflect our reaction to the challenges that life presents and most of the time we have the emotional resilience to bounce back.
When low mood persists or continuously recurs for more than two weeks, this can be an indication that a form of clinical depression may be present. The key characteristics of clinical depression include low mood and loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyable. Physical symptoms of depression can include changes in appetite and weight, sleep disturbance, reduction in sex drive, constipation, noticing aches and pains more and feeling tired or fatigued. Depressed people also often experience problems with concentration and short-term memory, difficulty making decisions, negative thinking and thoughts of death or suicide.
The key cognitive patterns behind depression include loss, failure, helplessness and hopelessness for the future. This can include themes of poor personal performance, absence of meaning, low self value and reduced personal pleasure.
Depression is classified as a mood disorder and is normally described as mild, moderate and severe. Mild depression has some impact on daily life, moderate has a significant and noticeable affect and severe depression makes it almost impossible to function normally. Depression affects around 10% of the population and is particularly prevalent in older people and individuals with other psychological and physical problems.
If you want to talk to a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist about depression or low mood problems, call 01732 808 626, email email@example.com or complete the simple contact form on this page. We can organise a free initial telephone consultation with a CBT expert. You can also rate your depression symptoms by taking a free Depression assessment, such as the PHQ-9 which is a recognised and widely used self-assessment for depression:
How Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is Used to Treat Depression
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is recognised as the most effective and sustainable treatment for depression. Numerous clinical studies have consistently demonstrated that CBT out-performs anti-depressant medications and other forms of psychotherapy and counselling. Whilst the specific treatment protocols for depression vary depending upon the form of depressive disorder (outlined below), the process involves altering negative thinking patterns and undertaking practical exercises to increase the level of positive interaction and feedback.
We use a process called cognitive restructuring to identify, challenge and alter negative thinking patterns that maintain depressive mood. This involves working with a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist to understand and change the thoughts, rules, assumptions and beliefs that maintain depressive symptoms. This means in-session work to map out the thinking cycles and problem solving exercises to identify and strengthen realistic and healthier thinking patterns. The Therapist may also encourage the individual to undertake practical experiments between sessions to test out negative assumptions.
We also use a process called Behavioural Activation. This involves identifying, planning, undertaking and monitoring activities that are consistent with the individual's responsibilities, goals and values, rather than their mood, weaknesses or vulnerabilities. This is a highly structured and pracctical approach which has been shown to be effective in breaking the cycle of depression.
We aalso augment our approach to the main forms of depression with third-wave CBT techniques. This can include Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). These forms of therapy have been found to be highly effective in building resilience, reducing linked forms of distress and preventing relapse.
The Different Types of Depression
Depression can be a complex problem and is often linked to other psychological disorders such as bipolar disorder and substance abuse. The most common forms of depression are outlined below:
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Also referred to as clinical depression, unipolar depression and recurrent depression, MDD is present when two or more major depressive episodes are experienced. A depressive episode involves depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least 2 weeks. At least five of the following symptoms are present and this causes significant impairment in social, work or other important areas almost every day.
• Depressed mood most of the day.
• Diminished interest or pleasure in all or most activities.
• Significant unintentional weight loss or gain.
• Insomnia or sleeping too much.
• Agitation or psychomotor problems noticed by others.
• Fatigue or loss of energy.
• Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
• Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
• Recurrent thoughts of death
This is a milder form of ongoing depression, now referred to as Persistent Depressive Disorder. This usually involves fewer symptoms, present for a minimum of two years. Depressive symptoms are still present for more days than not and whilst not necessarily disabling, the problem negatively influences the individual's daily life and general outlook.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
SAD is a mood disorder with a seasonal pattern. The precise cause of SAD is still unclear; however it is likely to be related to the variation in light exposure in different seasons. Depression which starts in winter and subsides when the season ends is the most common form. People with SAD usually have low energy, over sleep, overeat, gain weight and crave for carbohydrates.
Antenatal and Postnatal Depression
This is now referred to as Perimital Depression. Women are at an increased risk of perimital depression during pregnancy (and in the year following childbirth. Around 80% of women experience anxiety and the "baby blues" after giving birth and this just reflects normal hormonal changes and the stresses of adjusting to the demands of a new baby. Perimital Depression is longer lasting and can significantly affect the mother, her relationship with the baby, her partner and wider family and the baby's early development. This type of depression is surprisingly common, affecting approximately 16% of women after birth.
This is characterized by periods of depression and mania, with periods of normal mood in between. Mania is the flip-side of depression and varies in intensity and duration. Symptoms include feeling high, having lots of energy, little need for sleep, racing thoughts, talking fast, having difficulty focusing on tasks and often feeling frustrated and irritable. Bipolar disorder is often familial and can be triggered by Stress and conflict. It is often misdiagnosed as other psychological conditions such as depression, ADHD and psychosis. Diagnosis depends on an episode of mania and the marked swing or shift between high and low moods.
Cyclothymic disorder is a milder form of bipolar disorder. The person experiences chronic mood swings over at least two years, involving periods of hypomania (a mild to moderate level of mania) and periods of depression. The condition is punctuated by short periods of normality, lasting no more than two months. The duration of the symptoms are shorter, less severe and not as regular as bipolar disorder or major depression.
This form of depression involves losing touch with reality and experiencing psychotic symptoms such as visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. This form of depression is more often initially treated with the support of a psychiatrist and the use of medication.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for depression and low mood brings the same rigor, structure and focus to the problem that it provides for many other psychological, emotional and behavioural problems.
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Think CBT is committed to providing access to affordable independent Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Our aim is to support tangible improvements in the psychological health and well being of our clients, contributing to better lives worth changing for.
There are many psychotherapists and counsellors offering cognitive behavioural therapy. Always ensure that your therapist is professionally accredited with the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP).