The term "depression" is often used in a casual sense these days and most people have some sense of what it means. Many of us have been through a period of deep sadness, which may have had features of the clinical condition. When this becomes prolonged and symptoms mount, it can become increasingly difficult to find a way out.
Symptoms of Depression
Categorized under mood disorders, depression is an umbrella term to describe a disorder characterized by loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities with additional symptoms including:
- changes in appetite or weight
- changes in sleep
- decreased energy
- feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- recurrent thoughts of death
- suicidal ideation, plans, or attempt
The mood of someone struggling with depression is often described as depressed, sad, hopeless, discouraged, or down. Depression can interfere with social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Treatments for Depression
Depression and depressive disorders are comprised of cognitive, behavioural and brain-based features that can be treated differently and simultaneously. Pharmacological treatments such as anti-depressant medications are used to intervene at the biochemical level. Neurophysiological treatments like neurofeedback are used to address neural firing dynamics. Cognitive therapy treatments are delivered through counselling and psychotherapy and can intervene at the cognitive, affective, and behavioural levels.
As part of the cognitive model, the schema theory suggests the importance of identifying and evaluating cognitive structures, the assumptions one has about the world, self, and others, to interpret experiences in a meaningful way. Cognitive depression therapy is a treatment that relies on the collaborative relationship between a client and therapist, emphasizing interpersonal qualities, shared determination of goals, regular feedback, and team based investigations.
A client enrolled in cognitive based depression therapy, can expect collaborative work with the therapist to define a target problem then to choose cognitive or behavioural techniques to apply for symptom reduction and long term restructuring and modification of schemas.
Cognitive depression therapy continues to demonstrate effective treatment outcomes by helping clients understand the relationship between thoughts, behaviours and emotions. The collaborative relationship built with the therapist nurtures the development of psychological skills for the client to utilize in minimizing future episodes of depression.