Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for depression

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23 March 2020

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been proven effective as a form of talk therapy to help manage problems relating to how we think, feel and act.

This form of therapy is based on the idea that our distorted beliefs and thoughts are as a result of negative actions or feelings, and not unconscious forces from the past.

CBT can be used to treat a variety of mental health conditions but is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. In a previous piece, we explored CBT for Anxiety and how you can support your employees.

In this piece, we’ll focus on cognitive behavioural therapy for depression. As well as its benefits, we’ll also delve into its effectiveness for treating depression and suggest some CBT exercises you can recommend to your staff.

However, for urgent enquiries about CBT and its use for mental health issues in the workplace you can contact the Health Assured experts today on 0844 892 2493.

 

What is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for depression?

It’s a type of psychotherapy. It uses a blend of cognitive and behavioural therapies to identify and manage negative thoughts and behaviours. It then replaces these thoughts and feelings with other realistic and healthier ones.

But why is CBT used in the treatment of depression?

The NHS has emphasised the effectiveness of CBT for depression. According to a study carried out by various academic institutions, this form of therapy can, “reduce the symptoms of depression in people who fail to respond to drug treatment”.

Various studies highlight the link between CBT and depression. The potential to use cognitive therapy for depression was first highlighted by Aaron T. Beck and Albert Ellis in the 1950s and early 1960s.

They’re believed to have played a vital role in pioneering the use of CBT for treating depression and other mood disorders. They developed procedures to challenge negative assumptions and beliefs to help sufferers learn how to change their thoughts and adopt a more realistic approach.

So, how effective is CBT for depression and does CBT work for depression?

Using CBT, mental health professionals can delve deeper into the root causes of mental health problems. This form of therapy takes a more pragmatic and problem-solving approach than other forms of psychotherapy.

There’re instances when CBT is not working for depression, in this scenario, experts will recommend a combination of antidepressants and therapy.

The study mentioned above found that over 12 months, patients that received CBT in conjunction with antidepressants were around three times more likely to respond to treatment and see a reduction in their depression symptoms.

This form of therapy aims to use the skills learnt during the sessions to manage problems to stop them from having a negative impact.

 

Benefits of CBT for depression

While this form of treatment might not be suitable for everyone, according to the NHS, CBT therapy for depression can be as effective as taking medicines such as antidepressants. Other advantages include:

  • Resolving relationship difficulties
  • Managing anger
  • Preventing addiction
  • Identifying negative thoughts
  • Teaches practical strategies for managing negative thoughts and beliefs

 

How long does CBT take to work for depression?

It’s considered short-term therapy, therefore, CBT treatments often require anything from 10 to 20 sessions. The exact amount will depend on a variety of elements including:

  • The type of depression (major, manic, chronic, etc)
  • The severity and duration of the symptoms being experienced
  • The level of stress it’s causing
  • The amount of support being received (from friends, family, work, etc)

Individual sessions normally last for 30 to 60 minutes once or twice a week.

 

CBT exercises for depression

Various researchers have identified and developed a number of cognitive behavioural therapy interventions for depression. Using a mixture of mental exercises and worksheets, sufferers will not only understand CBT on a theoretical level, but they’ll also be equipped with the tools to apply it to their daily lives.

Examples of CBT exercises include:

  • Journaling: Encourages self-reflection to identify and correct negative thought patterns.

  • Exposure and response prevention: Purposefully exposing sufferers to triggers to encourage a controlled response.

  • Cognitive restructuring: Works to identify negative thoughts and then focuses on reframing and restructuring them.

  • Activity scheduling: Encourages sufferers to partake in enjoyable activities as they help to reduce negative thinking patterns.

  • Relaxation and mindfulness: CBT and mindfulness mix cognitive thinking exercises with meditation to improve mental health.

  • Roleplay: Used as an aid to help discover automatic feelings and practice new response to negative thoughts.

  • Imagery-based exposure: Involves thinking and analysing recent memories that trigger negative emotions or thoughts.

 

CBT alternatives for depression

As we mentioned above, while CBT may work for some people, it may not work for others. Before resorting to antidepressants, there’re other alternatives for those suffering from depression and other mental health conditions.

  • CBT online: Aimed at those that’d like to minimise face-to-face contact with a therapist but will rip the benefits of cognitive behavioural therapy for depression.

  • Counselling: This form of therapy helps depression sufferers think about the problems they’re experiencing and develop new ways of dealing with them.

  • Electroconvulsive therapy: Or electric shock therapy is normally used as a last resort to treat more severe forms of depression.

  • Lithium: When antidepressants aren’t working, a doctor will most likely recommend lithium to use in conjunction with the current treatment.

  • Support groups: These self-help groups help to talk through feeling to identify negative thoughts. It eliminates the feeling of isolation by meeting people who understand what it’s like.

 

Supporting employees with CBT

Employee assistance programmes are designed to support your staff when they need it most.

It’s a benefits programme that helps employees address problems that might impact their work performance or wellbeing.

Health Assured’s EAP service offers a range of trauma-specific interventions, one of which includes cognitive behavioural therapy. Also included as part of this service:

  • 24/7 access to counselling
  • Telephone support
  • Access to our health hub
  • An online portal, etc.

 

Expert advice

Contact us today for more information on recognising and managing depression at work on 0844 892 2493.

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