It’s normal for people to feel “blue” now and then in response to adverse events: a job loss, home foreclosure, illness. But depression is different.
When you are depressed, it feels like you have a heavy weight is on your shoulders. You feel sad most of the day. You lose interest in doing normal activities, (like going to the gym), or it feels like a huge effort just to do routine chores, (e.g. paying bills). You may have insomnia or feel like sleeping all day. Some people lose their appetite while others eat too much. Often, it’s a struggle to concentrate and make simple decisions, like what to wear that day.
A phenomenon of depression is how it affects thinking. When you are depressed, your thinking becomes very negative. For example:
You are very critical of yourself.
“I messed up on that report. I’m a failure.”
You interpret situations negatively.
“Joan hasn’t called me in weeks. She probably doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.”
You have a negative outlook toward the future.
“I hate my job. Things will never get better.”
You often feel overwhelmed by tasks that ordinarily don’t burden you.
“I can’t even open the mail, let alone write checks.”
When you are depressed, your thoughts can become distorted and unrealistic in other ways:
You generalize. . . . . . . . . . . “I don’t get this computer program. I’m just stupid.”
You see situations as permanent . . . . “I’m so lonely since he broke up with me. I’ll never find someone to be with.”
You filter out any positive information. . . . . . . “I made three sales last month, but I should be making ten.”
Once you start seeing the world through though such dark lenses, it’s hard to change this negative outlook without help. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be one of the most successful forms of therapy to treat depression. Using CBT, I will help you overcome depression in several ways.
First, I teach you how to recognize the errors or distortions in your thinking and change them. The goal is to think more objectively about yourself and situations, to neutralize your negative thoughts.
Second, I use specific techniques to “jump start” your motivation. The objective is to feel some sense of accomplishment and enjoyment, however small, to pull you out of the doldrums.
Third, we collaborate to help you solve problems.
Numerous clinical studies have shown Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to be effective for depression, in some cases as effective as medication. One important aspect of such studies is the decrease in relapse of depression after a course of CBT, because people have learned new ways of thinking.