Recently, we discussed how to tell the difference between minor blues and major depression. Did you miss that post? Take a look here. We mentioned that at Evanston Counseling, therapy is one of the top three choices for managing your depression. Our Cognitive Behavioral Therapists believe that CBT, a research-based talk therapy approach, is one of the best modalities to help you find your way past the deep sadness to find pleasure in life again. How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for depression work? Keep reading and discover how.
The Power of Our Thinking
Our thoughts are powerful. You may have heard that said before. Let me tell you why what you think is more mighty than what you assume.
What we tend to think about a lot, we begin to accept as truth. After being fired, you might think that your life is a failure and you’ll never find a new job. Once you take hold of this belief about your life as truth, you may no longer get the energy together and make changes for the better.
These negative thoughts roll around in your mind constantly. They start to affect your mood and your level of activity. When you’re feeling low, searching for a job on Indeed.com, might never enter your mind.
Since your thoughts have led you to believe that your life can’t change, you stay glued to the couch instead. But, making a connection with a former colleague on LinkedIn might just help in your new job search.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Depression
Our Cognitive Behavioral Therapists at Evanston Counseling see this all the time. Your thoughts are really powerful and they can make or break your day. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy brings your self-perception and your perception of your life into alignment with what is true. Our therapist, Lily Ohl, defines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy like this:
“CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on your thoughts, and how those thoughts can change the way you think about yourself and the world around you. CBT works to help you understand the stories you developed about your life from your childhood. It looks at how these stories shape your view of reality today.”
By gaining this understanding of your thoughts, you’ll begin to see how your beliefs about yourself don’t always line up with reality. These errors in our thinking are called “cognitive distortions.” The false realities we create can make us feel trapped or unhappy.
If you stay too long in this place of feeling stuck by your negative thinking, depression can develop.
The World Health Organization describes depression as
“…a persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities. It can also disturb sleep and appetite. Tiredness and poor concentration are common.”
The WHO also states that depression is one of the most common forms of mental health challenges. They report that
“In 2019, 280 million people were living with depression, including 23 million children and adolescents.”
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective method to help alleviate this problem of depression for millions of people. CBT is one of the most studied forms of treatment for depression. Our therapists at Evanston Counseling often use CBT to help clients with depression. We are experts, specifically trained in using this type of therapy. Having Cognitive Behavioral as a specialty sets us apart from other therapists or practices. Many may use CBT, but may not have the same area as a specialty.
Therapist Marion Wineinger says that CBT is helpful for depression. She also uses CBT methods for clients with low self-esteem, self-worth, trauma, and anxiety.
Kevin Miller, another of our Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, recommends it as one of the best tools a therapist can have in their toolbox. CBT is very effective for clients who are depressed or anxious.
How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression Works
If you feel that you are in the middle of the storm of negative ideas, you may not be able to see a way out. You may feel stuck. You might not be able to imagine how changing only your thoughts around a situation could do any good. But hang in there, the mind is a powerful thing! A therapist who is experienced with using CBT will be able to help you feel better pretty quickly.
Judith S. Beck, Ph.D., director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, mentions that constant focus on negative thoughts can lead you deeper into depression. You can become so used to thinking something, that you stop challenging whether it is true. One negative thought automatically leads to the next negative thought. You can become locked in a depressive way of seeing your world.
But Cognitive Behavioral Therapy disrupts this loop of thoughts. Ohl of Evanston Counseling says,
“To begin, you need to understand the errors in what you think is reality. CBT works to challenge the stories you are telling yourself. You will start to notice which thoughts aren’t true.”
What this means is that once you can separate truth from fiction in your thinking, you might just start to change your behaviors. If you drop the idea that it is not safe to be in a relationship, you might open yourself up to dating again. Next, you might download a dating app and see if you can find someone interesting to spend a little time with. Your negative thoughts will no longer be a barrier to the life and relationship you really want to have.
What happens during therapy with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist?
Your life is like a puzzle. You have the real things that happen and then you have what you think about those events, i.e. your thoughts. It’s complicated. When something happens in your life and it becomes a problem, it helps to break it down into pieces.
Dr. Beck, breaks it down like this:
- the problem as [you] see it
- [your] thoughts about the problem
- [your] emotions surrounding the problem
- [your] physical feelings at the time
- [your] actions before, during, and after the problem occurs
We tend to see the issues in our lives as merely individual, unrelated events. Yet, as you begin your work with one of our therapists, you will look at the thoughts you have tied to the many parts of the problem. Breaking down a troubling issue and examining each component, you will start to interrupt the draining loop of negative thinking.
Over time, you will see the heaviness and darkness of the depression lifting.
Will Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Really Help My Depression?
Let’s see what our therapists have to say.
**Catherine Boyce, Ph.D., Therapist and founder of Evanston Counseling,
“CBT is a great therapy for people who want rapid change and are motivated to do the work that is needed to make lasting changes.”
She uses the image of being on a hamster wheel to describe the pattern of repetitive negative thinking that comes with depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can show you how to hop off the hamster wheel and start heading in a positive direction.
Catherine believes that to gain the most benefit from CBT, you’ll need to invest time and energy between sessions. This commitment to yourself will help to make the strategies of CBT stick.
**Kevin Miller, Therapist
“With CBT, you can break free from the cycle of anxious, black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking.”
**Marion Wineinger, Therapist
Do you have goals that seem out of reach? Perhaps in your depression, you believe that it is useless even to try to go after what you want.
“You can use CBT to identify the thoughts that contribute to your feelings. Once you have identified these thoughts and know what you are dealing with, you can change them. Reframing your thoughts leads you toward reaching your goals.”
Lily Ohl, Therapist
“It is important to trust the process, be patient, and continue to learn about how your stories have changed your thinking. The distortions in your thinking can be undone. It just takes time and consistency.”
Reach out to us…
Our therapists are here to walk with you through changing your thoughts and finding new thinking patterns that can help you to add more joy to your life.
If you’re feeling depressed and heavy about managing life every day and would like to explore how a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist at Evanston Counseling could help you, call us at (773) 983-8444 for a free, 15-minute phone conversation.. We will listen and direct you to the right person to help you with depression. Or you can schedule a time to chat with us here to learn how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you overcome your depression.