Cognitive therapy is the most common technique used by medical practitioners in dealing with depression. It involves helping the patient understand their emotions, subconscious thoughts and learned behaviors, as part of their depression treatment.
The worst thing about depression is that it’s self-perpetuating. You’ll feel empty, hopeless, disengaged and that will cause your symptoms to deepen. Depression can make you feel like a failure, a total loser, and unable to do anything right.
Cognitive therapy is about breaking that cycle. Robert Westermeyer’s book Kicking Depression’s Ugly Butt is an excellent text for anyone looking to explore cognitive learning techniques to control their feelings and overcome depression.
Westermeyer starts by looking at the causes and symptoms of depression. Upsetting events, poor diet, lack of exercise, or a surrender to negative thoughts can all lead to the condition. He identifies the symptoms that help to diagnose depression such as being socially withdrawn and chronic self-criticism.
Next, Westermeyer looks at immediate ways of dealing with depression. He states that depression comes in waves, with short-lived periods of improvement usually giving way to a retreat into a depressed state. Westermeyer looks at how those bright spells can be built on and extended, paving a way out of depression.
He offers practical, short-term solutions that don’t require medication as well as more long-term solutions. Cognitive learning is more of a long term method that helps you systematically examine and question your negative thoughts, so you can begin to see that they are based on false assumptions. That way, you become stronger at resisting them.
This is also known as “metacognition”, essentially defined as the act of thinking about your thoughts. Although your emotions are legitimate and you may have external influences that aggravate your depression, metacognition is about questioning the mental structures you use to understand the world. Finding new ways to look at problems is the most essential step in overcoming depression.
Westermeyer also looks at related topics such as anxiety, anger, loss of motivation, building social skills and preventing relapse. It’s an excellent book for those looking to take control of their own emotions and build a more stable, positive life.