Managing Depression with CBT For Dummies®

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Table of Contents

About This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
Foolish Assumptions
How This Book Is Organised
Part I: Understanding Depression and How It Develops
Part II: Putting What You Discover into Action
Part III: Maintaining Momentum
Part IV: The Part of Tens
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go from Here
Part I: Understanding Depression and How It Develops
Chapter 1: Introducing Moods and Depression
Recognising the Differences: Sadness, Misery and Depression
Meeting sadness and misery
Experiencing depression
Making Sense of Your Symptoms
Prolonging a low mood
Changing weight
Suffering disturbed sleep
Lacking pleasure or enjoyment
Feeling tired all the time
Enduring aches and pains
Being unable to concentrate
Wanting not to be around people
Stopping the world (I want to get off): Suicidal thoughts
Thinking About Your Own Depression
Discovering how your experience fits with the theory
Measuring up
Balancing your lifestyle: What’s missing
Chapter 2: Introducing the Basic Principles of CBT
Becoming Your Own Therapist
Separating Depression into Three Domains
Defining problems and setting goals
Understanding the thought– feeling connection
Investigating the feeling– behaviour connection
Stopping the Depressive Spiral
Part II: Putting What You Discover into Action
Chapter 3: Thinking about Thinking
Uncovering Your Underlying Thought Processes
Ouch! Encountering hot cognitions
Monitoring thoughts and how they make you feel
Identifying the triggers
Unearthing your underlying rules
Assigning blame and making misjudgements
Recognising Thinking Errors
Thinking negatively
Thinking exaggeratedly
Weighing up the evidence
Chapter 4: Changing Your Thinking to Change Your Life
Breaking Bad Thinking Habits
Putting Your Unhelpful Thoughts on Trial
Witnessing your thinking errors
Finding a rational alternative thought
Evaluating the alternative
Going Deeper to Discover Causes
Chapter 5: Facing Your Feelings to Tackle Depression
Introducing Negative Emotions
Discerning helpful negative emotions
Identifying unhelpful negative emotions
Seeing the value in some negative emotions
Seeing the Thought–Feeling and Feeling–Behaviour Connections
Changing your attitude
Persevering for improvement
Managing Your Emotions
Recognising your sensitivities by describing emotions
Noticing, describing and tolerating your own emotions
Developing emotional responsibility
Changing your relationship with emotions and intrusive thoughts
Beating brooding and worrying
Recognising the child within: Ego states
Searching for self-resilience and self-comfort
Chapter 6: Changing Your Attitudes to Combat Depression
Making and Maintaining Positive Changes
Balancing your life
Keeping track of the evidence
Accentuating the Positive: Skills to Combat Depression
Recognising opportunities
Taking an interest in life
Living for today
Becoming more friendly
Enjoying the good things in life
Relaxing when you deserve it
Developing humour
Helping out other people
Eliminating the Negative: Steering Clear of Dark Thoughts
Improving your attitude to age
Resisting the demand for perfection
Combating boredom
Being your own best friend
Chapter 7: Raising Self-Esteem to Increase Your Motivation
Identifying the Issues of Low Self-Esteem
Discovering Your True Self-Worth
Giving yourself credit
Avoiding errors when challenging low self-esteem
Being Kind to Yourself
Using unconditional self- acceptance to accept yourself
Moving from global statements to specific ones
Talking to yourself positively
Using the prejudice model
Taking one step at a time towards being content
Chapter 8: Developing Abilities that Challenge Depression
Developing Compassion for Yourself
Attaining acceptance mode
Acknowledging the positives
Rediscovering Your Resilience
Discovering the Power of Assertiveness
Defining assertiveness
Assertiveness: Beating the barriers
Recognising your rights
Trying out some tricks of the trade
Being comfortable with communicating
Chapter 9: Being Mindful, not Mind-full: Developing Your Awareness
Discovering the World of Mindfulness
Joining mindfulness with CBT
Meeting meditation and mindfulness
Carrying Out Activities Mindfully
Becoming more aware
Practising mindful meditation
Letting Go of Your Demands
Part III: Maintaining Momentum
Chapter 10: Discovering the New, Healthy You
Enjoying Your Progress
Making mistakes to meet your goals
Pursuing the positives
Rediscovering Relationships
Chapter 11: Reducing the Risk of Relapse
Discovering the Danger Zones
Planning for Prevention
Rallying the Troops for Support
Part IV: The Part of Tens
Chapter 12: Ten Tips for Tackling Depression
Enjoying Physical Exercise
Being Kind to Yourself
Taking Pride in Your Appearance
Maintaining Your Surroundings
Keeping in Touch
Noticing the Pleasurable Small Stuff
Defining Your Problem Accurately
Enjoying the Journey
Doing Something New
Making Someone Else Happy
Chapter 13: Ten Tips to Challenge Distorted Thinking
Avoid Catastrophising
Think in Grey, Not Black and White
Correct Generalisations
Resist Mind-Reading
Switch Off Your Mental Filter
Reason Rationally
Don’t Personalise Events
Look Ahead to Combat Awfulising
Stop Comparing and Despairing
Consider Future Possibilities
Chapter 13: Appendix
Cheat Sheet

Managing Depression with CBT For Dummies®





Depression is one of the most common health problems that people experience, and it can decimate lives. Research shows that one in five people suffer from depression at some time, and yet it’s still one of the most misunderstood conditions, often confused with sadness, misery or unhappiness.

This book guides you towards a better understanding of depression and helps you to recognise and address the symptoms by using an approach called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The great thing about CBT is that it uses tried and tested methods to help you understand how you became depressed – and what is keeping you depressed – and empowers you not only to help yourself overcome it and start living a fulfilling life again, but to help other people too.

One patient told us that she’d suffered from depression all her life, and that she thought it was genetically based because both her parents had suffered from depression throughout their lives. However, she agreed to try CBT and within the first few weeks she had begun to understand her depression better and to feel empowered to take charge of her life. By the time she completed her treatment, she felt confident in dealing with whatever life threw at her without sinking into depression. At the end of her treatment, she sent us a lovely thank-you card, in which she said:

‘If only someone had explained these things to me when I was young, my life would have been so different. I used to think that it was the things that happened in my life that made me depressed, but you’ve taught me that it’s more about how you respond to what happens, and this has given me the power to keep my depression at bay.’

Similarly, CBT can work for you, helping you to understand and overcome your own depression. And with all the practical information gathered together between its covers, Managing Depression with CBT For Dummies is just the tool you need to get started and use CBT yourself.

About This Book

When you’re suffering from depression, you often feel isolated and as if nothing can improve your situation. But think of this book as an encouraging friend who’s on your side. Within it, I help you to become your own therapist, leading you to understand what causes depression, what keeps you depressed, and what effects depression has on your life and the people around you. I then give you lots of tips for taking back control of your life and for improving your mood.

To do so, I describe CBT and the many practical ways in which it can help. More specifically, I examine:

check.png The basic CBT model of how depression affects your thoughts, feelings and behaviour

check.png The scientific bases for how CBT can help

check.png Ways to identify the specific problems that depression is causing in your life

check.png How to identify and achieve realistic goals

check.png How to discover what causes you to become depressed

check.png How to overcome depression

check.png How to prevent depression recurring in the future

Conventions Used in This Book

My aim is to make this book extremely easy to find your way around, and to help out I use a number of conventions:

check.png Italics indicate new words and medical terms. Although I stick to language that avoids jargon and technical terms as much as possible, some new concepts occasionally arise that require explanation. I highlight these with italics and explain the term prior to discussing how to use it.

check.png Boldfaced font is used to highlight key concepts or action steps to take in lists.

check.png Monofont indicates a website address.

Throughout the chapter I include areas shaded in grey, called sidebars. These paragraphs contain information that’s interesting and adds more depth but isn’t vital; you can skip them if you prefer, safe in the knowledge that you’re not missing anything essential.

Foolish Assumptions

In writing this book, I assume that you (or someone you know) has been suffering from depression. You want to understand quickly how depression works and discover how CBT can help you to overcome that depression.

I certainly don’t assume that you have any existing medical knowledge or experience at all. You just want practical information, easily available, and to be rid of depression permanently.

How This Book Is Organised

I arrange this book into four parts.

Part I: Understanding Depression and How It Develops

An old adage goes: know your enemy! I describe in Chapter 1 how depression works, how and why it often arises, and I distinguish normal feelings such as sadness and misery from the more serious experience of depression. In Chapter 2, I introduce you to the tool you’re going to use to defeat your depression (CBT) and explain the ways in which it helps.

Part II: Putting What You Discover into Action

This part covers attacking the symptoms of depression different ways. Chapter 3 focuses on how you think – whether your thinking is positive or negative – because understanding this allows you to change to more healthy, positive methods of thinking (the subject of Chapter 4). I take a look at emotions and feelings in Chapter 5, supplying practical tips for managing your depressive symptoms. The third front in your battle against depression is changing behaviour, as I discuss in Chapter 6. Part of this change is to improve your self-esteem (Chapter 7) and become more assertive (Chapter 8). Chapter 9 is a bit different and introduces you to a very effective way to help in your recovery: the ancient (and yet also entirely contemporary) art of mindfulness.

Part III: Maintaining Momentum

The subject of this part is moving on from depression. Chapter 10 encourages you to rediscover and enjoy your healthy, happy life. Chapter 11 describes how to prevent a relapse, including practical hints for spotting and dealing with the danger signs and situations.

Part IV: The Part of Tens

This regular For Dummies section presents some succinct advice and tips for tackling depression in Chapter 12, and reveals negative ways of thinking that can hold you back while recovering from depression in Chapter 13.

I follow the Part of Tens with an appendix, in which I provide several forms for you to complete to increase your self- knowledge.

Icons Used in This Book

Throughout this book, you’ll find icons in the margins that will help you quickly identify different types of information and assist you in finding what you’re looking for more easily.

Tip.eps The text next to this icon contains particularly useful information or hints to save you time.

remember.eps This information is important and worth bearing in mind while tackling depression.

mythbuster.eps Many misconceptions and just plain errors surround depression, and I use this icon to show where I kick such myths into the long grass.

example.eps I include loads of examples to demonstrate and clarify the new ideas and models that I present. You can easily identify them via this icon. The stories don’t involve real people but are illustrations using composites of the many people I’ve worked with over many years as a therapist.

trythis.eps I want this book to be as practical as possible, and so beside this icon I supply little exercises for you to try out. They’re all proven activities that help people get over depression.

Where to Go from Here

Although you can certainly get loads of useful information by reading from Chapter 1 through to the end, I designed this book so that you can dip in and out as you like, reading bits that interest you at a particular moment. If you want immediate tips and hints to help you as quickly as possible, go directly to Chapters 12 and 13. Or if lack of self-esteem is a problem for you, turn straight to Chapter 7. To help you locate relevant material easily elsewhere in the book, I employ cross-references as well as a comprehensive index.

Remember, though, that if you want your life to be different, you have to start doing things differently. Just understanding or knowing the theory doesn’t in itself overcome your depression. Therefore pay attention to, and complete, the recommended activities and act on what you discover. And be sure that my best wishes go with you.

Part I

Understanding Depression and How It Develops


In this part...

You discover all about moods – including the differences between sadness, misery and depression – as well as the symptoms of depression. I also introduce you to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and you begin the journey of becoming your own therapist. You find out all you need to know to use the most scientific form of therapy available to overcome your depression.