Long Lasting Therapy to Treat Depression

I read this article today and found it really exciting and interesting. A few years ago, I had read a number of studies indicating that long-term depression can be better treated by changing one’s thoughts because the results lasted longer than the effects of anti-depressants. (This is not an anti-medication post–just some information about the benefits of therapy.) One article I read even suggested that while learning to use more positive thinking, the chemical make-up of the brain “corrected” itself with the decrease in stress hormones. I really love the idea that we can heal our minds after horrible things have happened to us.

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This article is a really long one, but I’ll sum up some of my favorite parts:
First of all, it focuses on a type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which seeks to teach patients new ways of thinking. Many therapists believe that our thoughts direct our feelings and our moods, so if we focus on positive and productive thoughts, we can raise our levels of satisfaction and increase good feelings. This study indicates that, while anti-depressants can help, the effects often wear off when the patient stops using them, whereas the benefits of CBT continue and patients who use CBT are less likely to relapse.

To quote the article:

“‘CBT encompasses a range of psychotherapies, all based on the premise that people with depression have excessively negative, and often inaccurate, beliefs about themselves and the world. It is designed to equip patients with the skills they need to “become their own therapists’, says Strunk, by critically examining those negative beliefs. Correct a person’s way of thinking, and the depression will lift, according to the theory.”

For example, if a person is feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts and feelings, CBT would suggest that they stop and really question if their negative fears are accurate before they become snowballed with negativity and anxiety. You want to stop those negative thoughts and try to take a more clear view of your life.

This study shares that people’s brain scans can even change after using CBT. During stress and depression, the more primitive parts of the brain–the parts that regulate our instincts for “fight or flight–“take over, but after CBT, brain scans show more regulation.

It is interesting to note that researchers have found that, while CBT can be very beneficial, it doesn’t work for everyone. The article states that they are trying to understand why this is so they can better help depressed patients.

Overall, I find this information and empowering! It’s just another way YOU can take charge of your own life and determine your own future. 🙂

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