Introduction to CBT for Depression

The first approach to treating depression we’ll look at is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is one of the most effective treatments for depression. The main idea behind CBT for depression is that our thoughts and behaviors are a big influence on our moods, feelings and emotions. And when we change the way we think or act, we also change our moods and how we feel.

But our moods and how we’re feeling also affect how we think and act. So in CBT for depression we focus on how our:

  • thoughts and cognitions
  • behaviors and actions
  • moods, feelings and emotions
  • and physical or physiological symptoms and sensations in our bodies

all influence and interact with each other.

Vicious Cycles and Downward Spirals of Depression

CBT Downward Spiral od Depression

Depression involves a number of vicious cycles between all of the above elements that can lead us into downward spirals:

  • When we’re depressed we have lots of negative thoughts. And these thoughts feed back into our depression, making us even more depressed.
  • Depression impacts our behaviours. It leads to decreased interest and pleasure in activities. And as a result, we can significantly reduce our levels of activity. But decreased levels of activity leave us feeling even more depressed.
  • Depression also affects our bodies. Depression can leave us feeling sluggish, fatigued and worn out. And this makes us not want to do anything, which, as we just noted, leaves us even more depressed.

The video below describes the relationship between our thoughts and feelings. Then it explores the interconnectedness of our thoughts, actions and behaviors, feelings and emotions, and physical symptoms and sensations in our bodies.

The ABCs of CBT for Depression

CBT for depression involves reversing these vicious cycles and downward spirals by:

  • changing our behaviors with behavioral activation, which we’ll look at in the next post
  • changing our thoughts with cognitive restructuring, which we’ll look at after that

This pdf worksheet is a good way to get started with CBT for depression. Whenever we notice a change in our moods, we note what triggered it or what we were doing at the time. And then we record our thoughts, feelings and emotions, actions and behaviors, and any physical symptoms or sensations.

The more we do this, the more we’ll start recognizing how our thoughts, feelings and emotions, actions and behavior, and physical symptoms and body sensations interact with and influence each other. And this helps us figure out how to make changes that can lead us to feel better.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them on the YouTube video page.