Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression: Why It Works

Over 11% of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 experienced at least one major depressive episode in their lives. That's a little over 4.4 million young adults having significant exposure to the effects of depression.

Depression has become an increasing problem in teens and adults. This has led to a push to find better forms of treatment, which includes practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT is not a new form of therapy by any stretch. But, experts haven't been debating the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for depression for long.

CBT has proven to be effective for mild to moderate forms of depression. It can either stand solo as a form of treatment or with other treatments like medications or other therapies.

Keep reading to find out how CBT can be effective for treatment of depression as well as discovering if you or your clients could benefit from CBT.


Depression can come in many forms and have symptoms that range in severity from mild (having the blues) to life-threatening (suicide attempts). Depression in any form or severity can have an adverse effect on daily activities like eating, sleeping, or working. 

Someone who is suffering from depression typically experiences a persistent feeling of sadness, loss of interest in things and activities, and will often exhibit mood and behavioral changes. The following list of symptoms is typical of patients with major depressive disorder:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in all normal activities
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating or staying focused
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss due to not eating
  • Lethargic
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Depression can be different from person to person, however, there are also noticeable differences among children and teens and older adults.

Depression in Children and Teens

Because children, especially teens, are still developing their understanding of how the world works and how they fit in it, their emotions are already difficult to control. Add a dash of hormones and puberty and there's a recipe for disaster.

It's important to pay attention to your child or teen and keep an eye out for symptoms listed above as well as the following key symptoms in children and teens:

  • Poor performance or attendance at school
  • Use or abuse of recreational drugs
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Clinginess to a parent
  • Overly sensitive
  • Self-harm

Children and teens aren't the only ones whose depression could turn severe fast.

Depression in the Elderly

Elderly patients with depression can also experience different symptoms due to their age. If you have a loved who you think might be depressed look out for these symptoms and the ones listed above:

  • Memory difficulty
  • Personality changes
  • Loss of desire to leave the house or go outside

Depression in the elderly should not be considered normal or made light of. Depression in any form can be debilitating and dangerous if left untreated. There are many resources available to those with depression and those who are having suicidal thoughts. 

Treatment for depression is not an easy road, but with therapies like CBT, there is hope for people who wish to live a happy, healthy, normal life. 

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is a form of psychotherapy which sets out to change your behaviors and moods by modifying your thought patterns. CBT combines cognitive and behavioral therapy to help identify negative thought patterns and behaviors. Once identified the therapist can help with modifying them to be healthier.

CBT has become popular as a form of treatment for not only depression but anxiety as well. The same principles and concepts outlined below for depression also apply to treatment for anxiety.

What Goes into CBT?

CBT is by no means a quick fix for anything. It takes dedication, patience, effort, and time. Because CBT is a form of talk therapy and centers around identifying and changing negative thoughts and behaviors, therapy can last from months to years.

However, please note the payoff for sticking to your therapist's treatment plan is completely worth all the time and effort put in.

The workload can be pretty intensive, though, and should be taken seriously at all times. Take a look at what some of the tasks you'll be expected to complete and go through while in therapy:

You and your therapist will break down each of your problems into different parts. You may be required to keep a journal of your emotions, thoughts, and reactions to situations and events.

You will have homework which will usually center around practicing any or all of the new skills learned in therapy.

You will work closely with your therapist to identify and understand all of your thoughts and emotions and to find and change the negative ones.

As with any form of treatment you will never be asked or forced to participate in or be witness to anything you don't want.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression

Since the early 1950s, people have benefited a great deal from the merging of cognitive and behavioral psychology. The development of CBT has done a great deal to advance the treatment of disorder like depression and anxiety.

By helping clients to identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors, CBT has taken a big step to tackle the growing suicide crisis.

This is how CBT treats depression, by helping a client to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. REBT does this by assuming that an emotional consequence is not caused by an event but rather by the person's belief system.

The belief system is what influences a person's interpretation of an event. Which in turn influences their thoughts and behaviors surrounding the event.

Depression can be a very serious disorder with lifelong consequences if left untreated. If you would like to know more about cognitive behavioral therapy for depression or to schedule an appointment Contact Me today!







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