How CBT and REBT can help with Depression
“We teach people that they upset themselves. We can’t change the past, so we change how people are thinking, feeling and behaving today.” Albert Ellis (psychologist and developer of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy – REBT)
You know it’s ok to be sad sometimes. However, when that sadness is constant or doesn’t go away, it becomes a problem. You might stop going out, become introverted, have sleepless nights and your health will begin to suffer. Does this sound like you?
What can make it worse is friends and family saying things like: “pull yourself together,” or “it might not happen.” This makes you sink into deeper depression or makes you angry with them. Your mind feels like a thick, gooey mess. Some people liken it to a black mist descending and it’s sometimes referred to as “the black dog”.
And even when you know you need help, sometimes getting the right help can be an uphill struggle. Your doctor may just give you some pills and let you get on with it as best you can, without offering any other type of support.
See your doctor
It’s always advisable to see your doctor to check for any underlying medical problems before embarking on any complementary therapy or other treatment.
When I take on a new client, they fill out a preliminary health check for me and I’ll always advise them to seek medical help if I think they need it. Depression, feelings of sadness or other emotional issues can be due to physical medical problems.
For example, I recently advised a client to see their doctor, as some of the symptoms they described sounded like an underactive thyroid. As a sufferer myself, I recognised the symptoms and advised they revisit their GP for further treatment.
But if your physical health is fine or controlled with medication, the next step is to seek treatment that goes beyond pills. Doctors will often treat the symptoms and offer you pills to combat them, rather than explore the root cause which could be helped better with therapy.
Help is at hand
You’ve heard of talking therapies, right? But have you wondered how they can help resolve your problems?
The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE), which oversees what medical treatments can be used in the UK, recommends Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as one of the most effective ways of treating depression.
Developed by Dr Aaron T Beck, CBT is a form of psychotherapy in which the therapist and the client work together as a team to identify and solve problems. CBT works by helping you to change how you think (Cognitive) and what you do (Behaviour).
The Royal College of Psychiatrists says “Unlike some of the other talking treatments, [CBT] focuses on the ‘here and now’ problems and difficulties. Instead of focusing on the causes of your distress or symptoms in the past, it looks for ways to improve your state of mind now.”
Similarly, Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), which was introduced by Dr Albert Ellis in 1955, uses the idea that our beliefs affect our behaviour. The REBT Network says “whenever we become upset, it is not the events taking place in our lives that upset us; it is the beliefs that we hold that cause us to become depressed, anxious, enraged, etc.”
One of the core elements of REBT is that, in most cases, we don’t just get upset through any unfortunate mishap or adversity, but by how we construct our views of reality through our language, beliefs, meanings and philosophies about the world.
Neither CBT or REBT can remove your emotional problems, but they can help you manage them in a more positive way. They encourage you to examine how your actions can affect how you think and feel.
So, in a nutshell, CBT and REBT are about changing your beliefs and thinking, your behaviour and your emotional responses to help you feel better about life.
If you are in that dark place, do seek professional help as quickly as possible. A professional therapist trained in CBT/REBT can help you make a real difference.
You might also like to try some of these things yourself:
Ask your friends and family to empathise with you, rather than criticise or tell you to “pull yourself together”
- Ask them to listen to you without commenting or talking about your issues. If you want to talk, that’s fine, but ask them not to give you feedback
- Just be with them, without talking if you prefer
- Go for a walk – this gets your endorphins going, which helps you to feel happier. Go with a friend or relative for some company, but remember they shouldn’t comment on how you’re feeling.
For more information on how I can help treat your depression, anxiety or a number of other mental health issues, please email me or call 07967 807654.