One of the hallmark symptoms of depression – besides feeling depressed – is viewing the world through a clouded lens, otherwise known as depressed thinking. When you experience an episode of depression endorphins are running low in your brain, which means you feel more stressed, less self-confident, and overly sensitive. When you’re in this state, it’s easy for you to see the negatives everywhere you look:
- An unanswered text from a friend means that they secretly hate you and that your friendship is over
- The bartender didn’t put a wedge of lemon on your glass, which means you’re ugly
- You didn’t hear back about that second interview, which means you’re unhireable
- Your toddler had a 20-minute meltdown on the way to daycare this morning, so you’re an incompetent parent
If these sound like thoughts you’re having more and more frequently, then I invite you to consider how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, one of the therapy styles I use in my practice, can be helpful in managing your symptoms of your depression. Originally developed by Aaron Beck in the 1960s, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an approach that highlights the relationship between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The idea is that if you can: (a) change the way you make sense of things that happen to you, (b) better understand your emotional responses as they occur, and (c) react to situations in ways that decrease symptoms of depression, rather than perpetuate them, then you’ll stop feeling depressed.
So, What Do You Do?
With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, you can attack depression from three angles – by addressing your thoughts, your emotions, or your behaviors. With the help of a therapist, you can address all three. In this blog post, we’ll just look at the first angle: your thoughts.
First, identify your triggers. (Triggers are instances that occur to make you feel or think a certain way, e.g., while driving by a bakery and getting a whiff of the air, I decide to go into the bakery to buy some bread. The smell of freshly baked bread triggered my decision to stop in and buy some bread.) Knowing what events in the present are happening to trigger your depressed thinking lets you know what emotional responses – and resulting behaviors – to watch out for.
Second, learn what is based in reality and what isn’t. There is a process of evaluation called reality-checking. It’s an important skill to learn because your behavior is ultimately influenced by how you’ve interpreted a situation. To use one of the examples from above, if through your clouded lens, you conclude that your friend not responding to your message means you are an unlikeable person, you might get angry and decide to end your friendship with them.
Learning to identify triggers and challenge familiar ways of thinking can be tough. Remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Call 206-790-6144 today for a free 30-min consult on how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be helpful in treating your depression.