Clear Minds CBT

CBT and Depression


Some days you feel as flat as a pancake and can’t bear to face the world.

Flat and uncaring, you can’t give anything more and you don’t feel connected.

You want to be left alone, preferably under a duvet or in front of the TV watching “easy” programs that don’t hurt your brain.

Depression is a serious illness, which can be treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), an evidence based talking therapy for depression. It can be helpful to do this in conjunction with antidepressant medication.

CBT and Depression

CBT is a collaboration between therapist and client, working together to understand what is maintaining the depression with the aim of breaking free from its grip. The therapist brings expertise in CBT and the client brings expertise in themselves.

Although it can be helpful to understand the early experiences and core beliefs that triggered the depression, CBT will focus on the here and now as the priority is to relieve the symptoms and impact of depression experienced in the present.

This begins by understanding how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours all interact. To help pinpoint this your therapist may ask you to keep a diary of your thoughts, feelings and actions/ behaviours between sessions.

For example you might notice that you feel an increase in depressed mood, this might feel incredibly numb or empty. In your diary you would write down what happened beforehand. Such as hearing someone being praised for doing a good job

Uncovering your thoughts about this might be “They are doing such a good job, I’ll never be as good as them, I’m too useless”. You might have an image of yourself failing at a task.

Your mood becomes depressed, physically you might begin to feel exhausted. You react by leaving work and going home to sit on the sofa, eat biscuits for dinner and watch TV.

You tell yourself you’re useless, you need to work harder. Your depressed feeling increases, your exhaustion increases and you start to feel as though your brain is foggy. As though it’s become really smooth and nothing can attach. You go to bed but can’t sleep as you keep replaying negative experiences in your mind.

CBT Cycle of Depression

As you can see your thoughts and internal images (“I’m useless”, see yourself failing) are triggered by an event (your colleague receiving praise), which impacts your mood (depressed) and physical feelings (exhausted). You behave in a certain way (withdraw and ruminate) which in turn increases negative thoughts about yourself and the cycle spirals on.

As depression takes a grip, you might think negatively about yourself for being depressed, which further increases the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Your CBT therapist works with you to understand your unique cycles and how to break them so you can begin to recover.

What Can Cause Low Mood

As well as a persistent clinical depression that requires professional treatment, you can also experience a depressed feeling that can take over your body and mind for a short time, or a melancholy that is telling you something needs to change.

Reasons for this experience can be hugely varied, and are very individual.

It can be related to health and potential health complaints that start to rear up.

Maybe life events and traumas such as bereavements, relationship breakdowns, concerns about family - including children.

Continual stress at work, which doesn’t seem to have an end point, can leave us drained and unable to recharge effectively.

Our middle years can be a trigger, including changing hormones and reflections as we begin to transition from one stage of life to another.

Reflections generally on our life choices, current circumstances, lifestyle, regrets on things we did, or didn’t, do. Frustration and regret on the parts of ourselves we let go of - the person who loved to dance, go to festivals, draw, write, paint, play sports.

These can all lead to a depression of our body and mind, which urges us to stop and listen.

Self-Help Strategies for Low Mood

Give yourself time to reflect. This can be whilst walking, meditating, chatting with friends. Think back to what you used to enjoy, and what issues cause you to feel low.

Take care of your body - feed it good food. You will probably feel as though you can’t be bothered. But feeding yourself good food helps give you the energy you need to continue through this life transition.

Take care of your mind - notice and keep a diary of your thoughts and the emotional and physical feelings they trigger. Is there a pattern to thoughts or images that trigger you to feel depressed, or make the feeling stronger?

Connect with others if you want to. For some, connecting with others relieves low mood. For others there is a need to detach from others and focus on the self. Try both and see which works for you.

Connect to something bigger - the environment, faith, nature, a great cause. Lean into it and allow yourself to feel a part of it.

There is a time to stay still, but there is also a time to move. If you feel stuck in the emotion and you need to drum up some quick energy - then move your body. Get out in fresh air, dance whilst doing chores or cooking, run up the stairs - anything that gets you moving.

Of course, life doesn’t stop because you are going through a transition. You will still need to walk through your day-to-day stuff.

But make a promise to yourself.

A promise to give yourself time to hear and listen to what you need. Time to notice your unique patterns.

Try the above self-help ideas, however If you are feeling depressed and it isn’t going away, or it’s impacting your ability to function as you normally would, please seek help and do not suffer in silence. Clinical depression is a serious illness that can kill, it is not a weakness. So please don’t suffer in silence and seek help.

As an experienced CBT Therapist I can help you be released from depression.. I look forward to helping you reclaim yourself and your life as you navigate towards a clearer future.