I’ve been feeling a bit low; how can CBT tell if I’m depressed?
AS a CBT Therapist in London and the UK I treat many people for depression, and I hope this post can help anyone feeling low or depressed.
According to CBT, the causes of these feelings can be:
- losing a loved one or other major life events
- something as insignificant as a rainy day
- a situation at your job
There’s a significant difference between feeling moody and having clinical depression. Even the most successful people experience the occasional low mood. Sadness and feeling low are often tied to a specific trigger. This trigger will fade once you get over whatever put you in that funk.
Clinical depression affects more you more severely. You might lose interest in the things you used to enjoy and feel persistently unhappy towards multiple areas of your life.
If you have clinical depression you might experience any number of the following:
- Unhappiness or low mood
- Feeling worthless and inadequate
- Loss of energy and motivation
- Guilt and anxiety
- Trouble sleeping; changes in appetite
- Loss of libido, reduced interest in sex
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feelings of hopelessness towards the future
- Social withdrawal or isolation from loved ones
- Avoiding certain situations like going to work
These symptoms then become persistent and can even last for days and weeks, perhaps months.
They might affect your performance at work, and according to official statistics depression, anxiety or stress is the cause of 12.5 million working days each year.
It is a vicious cycle; performance pressures and job insecurity and can trigger anxiety and additional stress, which only adds to the issue. It's vital to get help if you are feeling persistently unhappy.
How can CBT help me?
First of all, depression is treatable. You can go to your GP who will be able to help you determine the best course of action, whether it’s medication, talking therapies, or maybe both.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the recommended therapy for depression by NICE as it is an evidence-based talking therapy and one of the most common and practical therapies to treat depression.
CBT helps patients realise how their thoughts affect their feelings and behaviour. Then CBT teaches them the skills to make a positive change in their life.
Given the evidence-based tools in CBT, a depressed person will often learn how to control or eliminate their symptoms.
When we feel depressed, we tend to do less because our fatigue or negative thinking impacts or will to do things.
Some of us don’t go to work or even leaving the house altogether; we stop doing things we used to enjoy, and we might stop seeing our friends and families.
Here are some action points help turn things around:
- Do more: Doing more will help you feel better, despite feeling tired and depressed
- Get some exercise: walk, swim, go to the gym, cycle. Choose something you like doing though. Otherwise, it could prove
- Pamper yourself: Do something you enjoy. Visit or contact a friend or family. Merely getting a quick catch up call or meeting can make all the difference.
- Observe your surroundings: If you have an object that is comforting or familiar holding, it can help with a bout of anxiety. Think of what you see, hear, smell.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings: Get them out of your head and on paper. Start by planning two small things each day: something that gave/will give you a sense of pleasure, and also something that will provide a sense of achievement.
- Take things one step at a time: Planning can get overwhelming, so break down tasks into smaller achievable chunks.