One of the most prevalent and debilitating psychiatric disorders, depression requires much more than just medicines for a successful treatment. With substantial impairment in social and occupational functioning and its frequent co-morbidity with other chronic illnesses, depression extends an enormous economic burden leveraging healthcare costs. [1]

The main mode of treatment in overcoming depression is the use of psychotropic medicines (anti-depressants) which, while altering your brain chemistry, are also capable of extreme side effects. [2] However, yoga, herbs, foods, and acupuncture are all shown to have significant effects in uplifting your mood and improving cognition associated with depression.

Experts also regard the usefulness of various types of psychotherapies in treating depression naturally or in conjunction with ongoing prescription drugs. October 10 is observed as World Mental Health Day (#WorldMentalHealthDay) and one such therapy widely used in treating clinical depression and improving mental health is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). [3] 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Depression
Depression starts with a conflict in your natural reaction to emotions, aggravating your feelings of sadness, pessimism, negative beliefs about the self, decreased motivation and changes in your sleep appetite. While there is a definite change in the brain chemistry (production and uptake of neurotransmitters), the behavioral traits which manifest as a result of this can do more harm than intended.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a form of psychotherapy which was developed in the 1960s as an alternative way to tackle the behavioral aspects associated with depression by psychotherapist Aaron Beck. The National Alliance of Mental Illnesses defines this mode of therapy as a form of treatment that focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

In simple terms it a mental toolkit which can help explore the thinking patterns of a depressed patient and then channel these very patterns to tackle negative thoughts and emotions. A cognitive therapist helps his patients identify the thoughts of self-worthlessness and instead turn them around or replace them with more constructive and benign thoughts.

How It Works
The central principle of this therapy is spotting negative or false beliefs that a depressed person harbors and helping him reconstruct them into more optimistic ones. As the therapy progresses, the therapist focuses more on reframing the deep core beliefs that the patient holds dear about self and the world. CBT is not projecting positive thinking, but rather realistic thinking among patients.

Research has highlighted the benefits of CBT not only in treating depression but also mood and anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, sleep disorders and other mental health illnesses.[4,5,6]

  • Large population-based studies have illuminated its effectiveness in treating depression even without the use of antidepressant medicines. [7,8]
  • Not only can it treat residual symptoms of depression but also prevent relapses.[9]
  • Besides improving the mood, CBT can also aid to tackle the physical symptoms of depression—improving overall energy, quality of sleep, appetite and also sexual health.

If you think you are facing depression, call or visit your physician today. By examining and categorizing your symptoms, your physician can help direct your treatment or even suggest a specialist. 

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more stories on Complementary and Alternative Medicine here.

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2. Ferguson JM. SSRI Antidepressant Medications: Adverse Effects and Tolerability. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2001 Feb;3(1):22-27. PubMed PMID: 15014625; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC181155.

3. de Mello MF, de Jesus Mari J, Bacaltchuk J, Verdeli H, Neugebauer R. A systematic review of research findings on the efficacy of interpersonal therapy for depressive disorders. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2005 Apr;255(2):75-82. Epub 2004 Nov 12. Review. PubMed PMID: 15812600.

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7. Dimidjian S, Hollon SD, Dobson KS, Schmaling KB, Kohlenberg RJ, Addis ME, Gallop R, McGlinchey JB, Markley DK, Gollan JK, Atkins DC, Dunner DL, Jacobson NS. Randomized trial of behavioral activation, cognitive therapy, and antidepressant medication in the acute treatment of adults with major depression.J Consult Clin Psychol. 2006 Aug;74(4):658-70. PubMed PMID: 16881773.

8. Blackburn IM, Bishop S, Glen AI, Whalley LJ, Christie JE. The efficacy of cognitive therapy in depression: a treatment trial using cognitive therapy and pharmacotherapy, each alone and in combination. Br J Psychiatry. 1981 Sep;139:181-9. PubMed PMID: 7317698.

9. Hollon SD, DeRubeis RJ, Shelton RC, Amsterdam JD, Salomon RM, O’Reardon JP, Lovett ML, Young PR, Haman KL, Freeman BB, Gallop R. Prevention of relapse following cognitive therapy vs medications in moderate to severe depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 Apr;62(4):417-22. PubMed PMID: 15809409.