Cognitive Therapy for Depression

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Depression is a frequently occurring mood disorder, both alone and in combination with other psychiatric illness. People with schizophrenia, for example, often suffer from symptoms of depression as well. Depression can be and often is treated with medications, but cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has actually been shown by a number of studies to be as effective as medication, with fewer side effects.

Sessions with a trained cognitive therapist address symptoms of depression by focusing on cognition, or how a person thinks. The idea behind CBT is that depression is perpetuated by dysfunctional ways of thinking, so the therapy teaches patients how to replace their unreasonably negative thoughts and patterns of thinking with healthier and more realistic alternatives. Patients typically work on CBT techniques both in therapy sessions and on their own between sessions.

Improvement is often seen within just a few sessions, and most courses of CBT for depression last only around 16 sessions. CBT alone is not always enough to completely banish depression, but it can be a helpful complement to medication and can provide a person with the tools they need to prevent a relapse of depression in the future.

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