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Cognitive therapy for depression - Controlling negative thought processes

A cognitive therapist teaches the patient suffering from depression to retrain their thought processes in varying ways.
A cognitive therapist teaches the patient suffering from depression to retrain their thought processes in varying ways.
Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Cognitive therapy can be an extremely effective solution for depression. Unlike conventional anti-depressant therapy, cognitive therapy permanently changes the thought patterns that lead to depression. Cognitive therapy is not only effective for depression. It can be used to treat anxiety, stress, and other issues related to our thought processes.

What is the basis of cognitive therapy?

Individuals with depression have underlying thought processes that occur in certain situations. These may have been learned through negative experiences. For instance, people who have been abused might have a constant thought process that tells them they are unworthy of love. Cognitive therapy helps to retrain the mind by replacing this thought process with a more realistic one.

How do these underlying thoughts cause depression?

Underlying thoughts dwell in the subconscious mind. We may not even be aware that we have them. When presented with certain situations, these underlying thoughts cause us to behave irrationally. For instance, a person with an underlying thought of being unattractive may be very resentful of someone thought to be very beautiful or handsome.

How about a more in depth example?

A woman who was not a member of the "in" crowd in high school, may have been persecuted by the pretty, thin and popular girls on a daily basis. Due to being tormented year after year, their underlying thoughts might sound like this. Pretty girls are mean. I don't belong with the pretty girls. I'm ugly. I'll never fit in with the in crowd. I might as well just forget about being successful.

Why is it so important to change these thought processes?

It isn't hard to see how thought processes like the example above can cause depression. Reacting to life based on these negative thoughts brings about less than desirable consequences. These consequences lead to even more negative thought processes. Each step brings us deeper and deeper into depression. Cognitive therapy can break this cycle.

How does cognitive therapy help depression?

Cognitive therapy works to break the cycle of depression by identifying these thought processes and dealing with them. Cognitive therapy cures the cause of depression therefore, curing the depression itself. Cognitive therapy teaches individuals to think more logically and therefore react differently to outside influences.

What about depression not caused by life experiences?

Chemical imbalances and other physical issues are sometimes the cause of depression. Even so, these problems still cause a chain of negative underlying thoughts. Cognitive therapy can be used to control thought processes, even when they are physically and chemically induced. It can be used along with conventional anti-depressants to help the most severely depressed patients.

What is a cognitive therapy session like?

A cognitive therapist teaches the patient suffering from depression to retrain their thought processes in varying ways. They will often suggest "assignments" to be done at home. All the exercises are designed to re-program harmful thought processes into more realistic thinking.

Please Note: The author is not a licensed therapist. This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a mental health professional for diagnoses and treatment of depression.


Web MD


This article was previously published by this author on a closed Yahoo! property.

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