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How do we define depression and what keeps it going?
Depression is a very common problem and many people feel low or down from time to times. This is often because of life stresses such as bereavement, money or housing problems or difficulties in relationships. However, for some people this low mood problem becomes more severe and pervasive to the point that functioning day-to-day itself becomes difficult.
Common symptoms of depression include the thoughts, feelings, physical symptoms below. It is the interaction of these symptoms that can keep people stuck in a vicious circle of depression:
- Doubting yourself, self-critical thoughts and thoughts of self-loathing.
- Expecting the worst and having negative or gloomy thoughts.
- Focus on negative memories and inability to see positives in things
- Thinking that everything seems hopeless.
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Emotions and physical symptoms
- Feeling sad, guilty, upset, numb or despairing.
- Losing interest and enjoyment in things.
- Crying a lot or feeling unable to cry.
- Feeling alone even if you are in company.
- Lack of energy and ability to concentrate
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Finding it difficult to do even simple things. You stop doing your normal activities.
- Cutting yourself off from other people.
- Become inactive, just doing nothing for long periods of time.
- Dwelling on negative thoughts (ruminating).
How can CBT help?
CBT can help with anxiety disorders in a number of ways and the treatment is dependent of the type of anxiety you are suffering with. Common treatment strategies include:
- Understanding the cycle of depression and how this keeps difficulties going
- Recognising and changing negative patterns of thinking associated with depression
- Learning to re-engage with activities the person has stopped doing
- Challenging the tendency to escape/withdraw from others, situations and problems
- Learning to self-compassion as an antidote to self-criticism
- Learning to understand how difficulties developed as a means of preventing relapse
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