With an estimated 350 million sufferers around the world, combatting depression through various treatments and methods helps millions of people reclaim their lives and lift the veil of depression.
Depression is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. The condition impacts how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
With as many as nine different categories, ranging from major depression to Atypical depression, diagnosing depression can be difficult. However, a certified therapist or psychiatrist is versed in the symptoms and indicators of each variety.
Like diagnosing depression, treating the disorder can often be tricky because each patient responds differently to treatments and also because some patients may want to avoid certain treatments like medications or regular therapy.
One of the most popular and useful treatment methods for depression is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of therapy that is especially for patients who suffer from acute and severe depression.
“CBT is a more short-term approach that often requires only 10 to 20 sessions,” writes Kimberly Holland of Healthline. “During these sessions, a patient and therapist identify current situations in the patient’s life that may be causing or contributing to their depression.”
Developed in the 1960s, CBT is a treatment approach that can be divided into two components: the cognitive component and the behavioral.
The cognitive component consists of the therapist and patient identifying the distorted negative thinking that causes negative emotions. Together, the doctor and patient begin to examine the veracity and frequency of these thoughts with the goal of eliminating negative thoughts and replacing them with alternative, more balanced thoughts.
During this process, core beliefs are also examined. A depressed patient may have an inner dialogue that they are a failure or loser. This negative inner voice can trigger depressive thoughts and feed the depression spiral.
The cognitive portion of CBT aims to retrain the brain and to steer it away from negative thoughts about self and to move it toward more balanced, positive thinking.
Under the behavioral component of CBT, a therapist helps the patient assess how different daily activities impact the patient’s mood and how some of them can improve symptoms of depression.
The therapists will then work to help the patient develop an action plan based on the behavioral activation approach. In this approach, the therapist and patient create a list of activities and then order them from less to more difficult to achieve. As the patient moves from easier to more difficult activities, their feeling of mastery improves and their feeling of depression lessens.
Practicing CBT skills with exercises at home is an essential component of treating depression through CBT. Repeatedly applying these skills to stressful situations makes a more rational approach more automatic, while making negative emotions less intense.
Psychiatrist Doug Berger is a psychiatrist in Tokyo who provides counseling in Tokyo and who specializes in treatment for depression. Dr. Doug Berger has found success using CBT on his patients. However, he also notes that some patients need a combination of different therapy approaches.
“CBT is only one of the tools in the arsenal of therapies,” explains Tokyo psychiatrist Doug Berger. “Some patients respond well to a mix of treatments, like psychopharmacology-integrated CBT, others may only need one treatment course, it really depends on the patient, most importantly whether they have had a recently stressful life event, but also the severity, chronicity, and genetics behind their depression.”
In its most intense forms, depression can become debilitating and precipitate a number of health issues like aches and pains, low energy, problems sleeping, too much or too little appetite, feelings of guilt and thoughts about death or even suicide.
It’s estimated that as many as two out of every eight people will experience an episode of depression in their lifetime, and the majority of the patients who have an episode of depression end up having at least one more episode later in life.
Treating depression during its early onset is the best course of action for sufferers. Waiting or prolonging treatment can make the depression worsen, which made lead to more intense and persistent treatment protocols.