Depression is a serious disorder that needs a careful diagnosis. It can be a result of a physical disorder or a medication problem, an imbalance of brain chemistry, or the result of external events. Also the duration of the illness is important, as all people tend to experience bouts of depressed mood that disappear in a few days. Severe depression can last for weeks, months or years. Major depression is characterized by a series of symptoms which include several of the following:
- Depressed mood most of the day
- A reduction in interest in pleasurable activities
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep pattern
- Lack of energy most days
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Feelings of agitation
- Inability to concentrate
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Depressed patients tend to exhibit specific behaviors which tend to enhance the depression. They usually exhibit poor social skills, engage in few pleasant activities, experience many negative events, and think in depressing and ruminative ways. Behavioral treatments attack these problems with a variety of strategies. These usually involve some form of self-monitoring of activities in order to make the patient more aware of the relationship between mood and activity. The treatments emphasize the importance of structured activity, helping the patient learn that he or she can get some control over the environment. Social skills training is important, as the depressed person’s behavior tends to lead to social isolation, with an erosion of social skills and an increasing feeling of social inadequacy. Building a structured program so that the person can increase the number of rewards in life is also essential, as depression tends to result in reduced activity and, as a consequence, a lack of reinforcers.
Cognitive procedures for handling depression involve both verbal and behavioral exercises. The patient is first taught how to be aware of the connection between one’s cognitions, mood, and behavior. By means of written homework, the patient monitors the negative thought patterns, examines the evidence for or against the distorted conclusions, and learns how to substitute more reality-oriented beliefs. The procedure has the patient keep a log of daily activities and mood. The patient is also encouraged to complete a series of challenging tasks, starting with very easy ones, and working up to more difficult ones.
At Behavioral Associates, we offer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) alone or often in combination with neurofeedback and biofeedback to treat symptoms of depression.
During your initial consultation at Behavioral Associates you will be matched with a therapist who will devise a treatment plan to help you move towards overcoming your depression.
Contact us or call our office at (212) 860-8500 to schedule your initial consultation.