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Depression Overview

Do these Thoughts, Physical Symptoms, Behaviours or Emotions feel familiar?

CBT simple Depression cycle
How depression might look in a simple CBT formulation

Different types of Depression

Depression is a mental health condition that can manifest in different ways, with varying symptoms and levels of severity. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a commonly used psychotherapy approach that can be effective in treating different types of depression. There are many ways that CBT can help with Depression but here are some of the basics.


Major depressive disorder (MDD):

This is the most common form of depression and is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low mood, as well as a loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable. MDD can affect a person’s ability to function in daily life.

CBT can help individuals with major depressive disorder by identifying negative thinking patterns and helping them develop more adaptive ways of thinking. It can also help individuals identify and change behaviours that may contribute to their depression, such as social withdrawal or avoiding enjoyable activities.


Persistent depressive disorder (PDD):

This type of depression, formerly called dysthymia, involves chronic low mood and a lack of interest in activities for at least two years. PDD is less severe than MDD, but the symptoms are more long-lasting.

PDD/ Dysthymia is a mild form of depression that lasts for a long period of time. CBT can be helpful in identifying and changing negative thinking patterns and unhelpful behaviours that contribute to this type of depression. As well as helping to recognise warning signs to help put measures in place early.


Perinatal/Postpartum depression:

This is a type of depression that affects new mothers during pregnancy and/or within the first year after giving birth. PPD can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness, and can make it difficult to care for the baby.

CBT can help new mothers with depression by teaching them coping strategies to manage the stresses of pregnancy and motherhood and helping them identify and challenge negative beliefs about themselves and their ability to parent.


Seasonal affective disorder (SAD):

This type of depression is linked to changes in seasons, with symptoms occurring primarily during the winter months when there is less sunlight. SAD can cause low mood, lack of energy, and changes in appetite and sleep patterns.

CBT can help individuals with SAD by teaching them coping strategies to manage symptoms, such as getting regular exercise and exposure to natural light. Identifying and challenging negative thought patterns, and adapting behaviours to help cope better during the winter period.

The best time to seek support for SAD is around September or as soon as you begin to notice symptoms. This is because CBT is most effective when symptoms are beginning to be present and you can use the tools to treat symptoms during treatment weeks.


Bipolar disorder:

This condition involves alternating periods of depression and mania (abnormally elevated mood), with episodes lasting several weeks or more. Bipolar disorder can affect a person’s ability to function in daily life.

CBT can be helpful for individuals with bipolar disorder by teaching them to identify and manage their mood swings and developing coping strategies for depressive and manic episodes.

The best time to seek CBT support is when medication is stable and you have not had a manic episode for a period of 3 months.


Situational depression:

This type of depression is triggered by a stressful event, such as a divorce, job loss, or the death of a loved one. Situational depression is often short-term and improves with time. Sometimes it is helpful to seek support and advice from a professional if symptoms persist.

CBT can help with situational depression by helping individuals to identify emotional and environmental triggers, challenge negative thoughts, identify and change unhelpful behaviours and maintain a balanced lifestyle.

It’s important to note that depression is a complex condition that can present differently in different people. Treatment for depression should be individualised and may involve a combination of medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and other interventions.

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