How to Treat Depression with Cognitive Analytical Therapy

This therapy has been shown to be particularly successful in treating depression. We mentioned the pioneers of the cogni­tive approach, developed by Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in the 1970s. In the last decade behavioural therapy has become increasingly popular as an alternative to long-term psycho­analysis, perhaps because many of us find the concept of addressing our current behaviour and reactions easier and less frightening to deal with than delving into the hidden traumas of our childhood, as psychoanalysis does. But there is now a therapy, CAT, which combines examination of past traumas from childhood and behavioural techniques for dealing with the symptoms it throws up.

CAT is goal-directed: the first sessions identify unac­knowledged influences from your childhood which might be contributing to your present unhappiness, such as unresolved loss or neglect; subsequent sessions offer techniques for changing your day-to-day responses and thought patterns which have stemmed from these unhelpful influences. The sessions are structured and usually number sixteen in all, so you will not be put off by the prospect of open-ended analysis that might last for years.

Treat Depression

How Effective is It?

CAT does not work as fast as an effective antidepressant medication or EPA in alleviating depressive symptoms, but it has been shown to be highly successful, particularly in reducing the occurrence of future depressive episodes. This is because it addresses the way you think and why you think this way, helping you understand the distorted light in which you view the world. It is not always easy to recognise your negative thought patterns, because you have probably been unconsciously thinking this way all your life. For instance, you might automatically jump to negative conclusions. Even a common, everyday incident, such as a boyfriend not phoning when he said he might, will make you leap to the conclusion that it is because he doesn’t love you, that he doesn’t love you because you are unlovable, that no one will ever love you for this reason, and that he is definitely in love with someone else who is prettier and cleverer than you. When he does phone and apologise, you overreact and accuse him of all sorts of neglect and betrayal for which you have absolutely no evidence. He then decides you are too much like hard work, and the relationship founders, confirming all your paranoia.

CAT promotes personal awareness and gradually increases confidence and self-esteem, so reducing the likelihood of you falling into depressive illness in the future.

Make sure you find a therapist you trust. If you are not happy with a therapist then you will not be able to take full advantage of the sessions. It can initially be frightening to expose your inner thoughts to a stranger, but most people find the experience of unburdening their fears to someone who is trained to understand both comforting and a tremendous relief.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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