Research shows the approach is especially helpful for those who aren't aided by drugs.
Depression is more than just a bit of the blues. The classic sadness, despair, and slowed mental functioning can be accompanied by physical symptoms, including aches and pains, heart palpitations, tremors, fatigue, and nausea. People who have depression are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and possibly dementia
Only a third of patients with depression respond fully to antidepressant medication. But treatment isn't limited to drugs. "Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is as effective as any individual antidepressant would be," says Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts make us suffer as much as external things do. Changing unhealthy thinking can bring relief in a way that medication can't. "Whatever medication is doing to enhance your brain's ability to regulate mood, there may still be patterns in your life that are undermining your sense of well-being," explains Dr. Miller.
A CBT therapist will help you identify automatic negative thoughts and understand why the thoughts aren't rational. Together you will come up with ways to rebut the destructive thoughts and develop techniques to reinforce positive ones. "You might cultivate ways to turn away from negative thinking by distraction, evoking soothing images, or making positive statements to yourself," says Dr. Miller. "You might also learn relaxation techniques or practice meditation to reinforce the technique."
- Assess a problem in your life:
"I don't get along with my daughter-in-law."
- Become aware of your thoughts and beliefs about the situation:
"My daughter-in-law never invites me over, so she must not like me."
- Identify inaccurate thinking:
"My daughter-in-law isn't avoiding me; she's busy with her own family and a demanding job."
- Challenge negative thoughts when they occur:
"My daughter-in-law is trying to cope with her own stresses. I've experienced that myself. I will be more understanding of her situation and offer to help out sometimes."
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