Therapy for Depression

Therapy for Depression

Depression, sometimes described as a very sad mood that you can’t seem to “shake off”,  is a common mental health problem. Depression is a serious issue and can rob the joy from someone’s life. The good news is that counseling and therapy can help with depression, but until someone gets help, they can be stuck in a huge amount of pain. Below are some common examples of depressed thinking patterns.

Do these thoughts often enter your mind?

  • I am worthless and can’t do anything about it.
  • How could anyone love me given how terrible I am?
  • I feel guilty for just wanting to eat, sleep and be alone.
  • I don’t know if I can get out of bed today.
  • I hate who I am these days.
  • I feel so much pain, but no one understands.

Other Signs of Depression

Depression can also change a person’s body and behavior. Here are some other common signs of depressed mood.

  • A change in weight up or down
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling tired even after sleeping
  • Moving around too much or too little
  • Difficulty with thinking, remembering, or focusing
  • Having less contact with friends or family (isolating)
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Excessive feelings of guilt
  • Sometimes, thoughts of suicide or self-harm

If you have experienced any variation of these signs, you may be suffering from depression.

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How Treatment Works

My approach to treating Depression comes from the principles of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies (CBT). CBT can be broken into two major pieces: Cognitive Restructuring (a way of changing unhelpful thinking patterns) and Behavioral Activation (an approach for adjusting behavior that adds to depressed feelings).

Cognitive Restructuring: Part of my job as your CBT therapist is to help you challenge overly critical thinking patterns.  A common technique I teach people is to monitor a common depression habit called “ignoring the positives”. This simple strategy can help you keep better track of your strengths and good qualities, while also nudging you to be more fair with yourself when you make a mistake. If your thinking can be tweaked to be a little more balanced – where your bad AND good qualities count, it can change your mood in a big way!

Behavioral Activation: Changing actions can change emotions in a big way. I often spend time in therapy helping people analyze how their spend their time. Something as simple as developing a healthier life schedule, such as committing to a wake-up time or an evening walk, can actually make a huge impact on depression. Behavioral Activation techniques are very useful for helping people find pleasure in life again.

What Healing Looks Like

As you chip away at dysfunctional thinking patterns and lifestyle habits that keep you stuck, your mood will slowly begin to change. The people I work with often feel like they are “thawing out” little by little as they begin to enjoy their lives more. They find new interests and start engaging more with things they used to do. They find that they look forward to being with people. Their daily tasks of living feel less “heavy” and more bearable. As the “thawing” continues, they notice that their first thoughts in the morning shift from “I hate this!” to something like “Hmm, this isn’t as bad anymore”.

As time moves forward and their mood continues to improve, people start changing their big beliefs around their future being horrible, their self-worth being zero, or that others can’t be trusted at all. This is where therapy gets interesting because people start to notice that their thoughts and behaviors don’t require so much attention – they easily find a happier norm automatically.

In the end, the point of therapy for depression is not to eliminate feelings of sadness altogether – that is not possible. The point is to have sad feelings when life is genuinely sad (deaths, losses, unexpected changes, etc) but not all the time. With the right help, you can find a better way to live your life and find the happiness you have been looking for.