Common symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, loss of interest in usual activities and diminished ability to experience a pleasure. In addition, while depressed, people may experience low energy, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, feelings of restlessness, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of death. The onset is usually in early- to mid-adulthood. Depression is a serious and often disabling condition that can significantly affect every aspect of a person’s life including work, family and academic life, overall health and the ability to enjoy life. People who are depressed tend to think in a negative, pessimistic and biased way. Depressed thinking is characterized by unrealistic expectations, negative distorted automatic thoughts, and poor self-image.
Cognitive therapy was originally developed to treat depression, and its effectiveness for depression has been demonstrated repeatedly. In CBT, patients learn to examine the validity and effectiveness of their thinking and systematically modify their thinking and behaviors. In CBT clients are taught a set of cognitive and behavioral skills, which they can employ on their own. The treatment is very active and requires the client’s participation in agreed-upon exercises and strategies between the sessions. Several clinical trials have shown that CBT is as effective as anti-depressant medications, for all levels of severity of depression. However, medications could also be helpful in treating depression and are often used in conjunction with therapy. If medications are thought to be needed, I could work with your psychiatrist or refer you to one of a large number of reputable psychiatrists I am working with.