As a disease, addiction to alcohol and drugs has a profound effect on virtually every aspect of one’s life. However, the disease doesn’t develop overnight and can develop for a number of reasons. Many individuals use substance abuse in order to self-medicate mental and emotional pain that they feel, indicating that addiction develops in these instances due to the possibility of a pre-existing psychological condition. In fact, many individuals who suffer from alcoholism or drug addiction have been found to also suffer from an emotional disorder such as depression, which has led many researchers to begin exploring the possible connections that addiction might have with depression and other diagnoses with which it shares symptoms.
When an individual suffers from depression, it can be as debilitating as suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is more debilitating than any other mental or behavioral disorder with an estimated 15.7 million American adults aged 18 or older, or 6.7 percent of all U.S. adults, suffering from at least one major depressive episode each year, which is a period of two weeks or more during which an individual experiences loss of appetite, insomnia, trouble concentrating, and/or problems with body image. However, cognitive behavioral therapy—an effective psycho-therapeutic technique that has been used to treat a wide variety of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders—has been suggested for use with individuals suffering from depression as a means for overcoming the debilitating effects of the condition. Therefore, the following will define cognitive behavioral therapy and explain how it is beneficial in treating depression.
What Exactly is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
There are many techniques that a professional counselor or therapist can employ when helping a patient overcome mental or emotional hardship. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a popular and widely-used treatment modality that focuses on the effect that one’s cognitions—thought patterns, emotions, attitudes, and beliefs—have on his or her behavior. A major tenet of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is that maladaptive or unhealthy behaviors originate from negative cognitions, but an individual can overcome those behaviors by learning or developing healthier and more positive emotions and patterns of thought.
As a form of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy is goal-oriented and, as such, tends to be used as a short-term form of psychotherapy. In short, cognitive behavioral therapy is meant to change a behavior by altering the behavior’s source, which is considered to be one’s emotions, thoughts, or other cognitions. There have been many uses for cognitive behavioral therapy, including helping individuals who suffer from insomnia, experiencing relationship problems, and even more severe conditions. During counseling sessions, the therapist and patient work together to identify the problems, understand why and how they are occurring, and develop strategies that the patient can apply whenever needed, allowing him or her to effectively overcome the unhealthy behavior.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & Depression
When it comes to the treatment of depression, cognitive behavioral therapy employs cognitive restructuring combined with a strategy that involves behavioral activation and scheduling. There have been numerous ways that this can be achieved to help individuals experience relief from symptoms of depression. In particular, behavior or activity scheduling refers to a strategy that involves therapists helping patients to identify activities or experiences perceived as being pleasurable and enjoyable, and then helping the patients to eliminate potential obstructions that might prevent them from participating in those things when experiencing a depressive episode. In essence, this strategy involves using cognitive behavioral therapy to help individuals find ways to overcome symptoms of depression by engaging in uplifting activities. However, therapists and patients must work together in identifying and eliminating any barriers that might restrict access those pleasurable experiences when in the throes of a depressive episode, which is another major focus of this cognitive behavioral strategy.
The cognitive behavioral model of depression is based on a concept that’s referred to as the “cognitive triad” of depression, which is when an individual exhibits a negative view of him or herself, his or her environment, and also of one’s future. Additionally, individuals must maintain a number of cognitive distortions in order to sustain these negative beliefs. Therefore, another important strategy of cognitive behavioral therapy for depression involves helping patients to overcome overtly negative thinking while helping them to build confidence. With a more positive outlook, individuals are much less likely to experience the distorted perceptions that often lead to depressive episodes.
Step Out from the Darkness of Addiction & Into the Light of Recovery
While cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be very effective in treating both substance abuse disorders and depression, there are a variety of other techniques that are beneficial to individuals who are suffering from these debilitating conditions. If you or someone you love is suffering from depression, addiction, or some other condition and would benefit from learning more about treatment, call Recovery Hub at 1-888-220-4532 for a free consultation and assessment. With just a phone call, you or your loved one can begin the journey to a life of happiness, health, and fulfillment.