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Often clients feel that depression is a personal failure, or they worry that something is wrong with them or even that they’re going crazy. Fortunately, psychological research has provided a good understanding of the reasons depression happens, and none of the above is true.​​​​​​​​​​​​​


Often, depression is preceded by life changes or difficult personal situations which trigger a depressive cycle. The basic structure of a depressive cycle involves avoidance of activities and a lack of positive reinforcement. This, in turn, leads to low mood and fatigue paired with lowered enjoyment of activities. Thoughts such as “I don’t enjoy anything” or “I am tired and need to rest” are common in the depressive cycle. These thoughts lead to avoidance of activities, which perpetuates the cycle and creates secondary problems such as issues with school, career, and relationships.


Losing sync with normal routines can further interrupt healthy functioning by disrupting sleep, appetite, and causing a feeling of being lost or out of touch with the world.​Thankfully, extensive research into the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treatments for depression has proven that there is hope of reversing the depressive cycle for all types of depression, from mild to severe cases, through this approach.​Using the four-factor model of CBT is helpful in practicing the separation of thoughts, feelings, physiological reactions, and behaviors from situations. In depression treatment, a good option for many is to focus first on changing behavior through a treatment called behavioral activation. For mild to moderate depression, bringing awareness to the cognitive aspect of the four-factor model usually supports positive change as well.​


Another effective approach for treating depression is Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy. IFS views the mind as a system of different "parts," each with its own perspective and qualities. Depression can be seen as originating from certain parts of ourselves that are trying to protect us, albeit in unhelpful ways. By working with these parts, understanding their roles, and helping them release their burdens, IFS can help create a more harmonious internal system. This process can lead to profound healing and a reduction in depressive symptoms as we learn to understand and integrate these different parts of ourselves.​


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is also a valuable approach for managing depression. ACT emphasizes accepting negative thoughts and feelings rather than fighting them, while committing to actions aligned with one's values. This method helps individuals develop psychological flexibility, enabling them to live a meaningful life despite the presence of depression. Through mindfulness and acceptance strategies, ACT teaches individuals to observe their thoughts and feelings without becoming entangled in them, thus reducing the power that depression has over their lives.​


Learning and practicing the skill of separating thoughts, feelings, physiological reactions, and behaviors through CBT not only points the way for you to shift behavioral and cognitive patterns that cause and maintain depression, but it also highlights the power of your awareness to make deep changes to other areas of your life. Similarly, IFS provides a framework to achieve deeper self-awareness and healing, facilitating personal growth beyond just managing depression. ACT helps you build a rich, full life by encouraging mindful action in the face of depression.Through our work together, you will experience how empowering your natural ability to control the focus of your attention is.


Learning to focus attention in the present and therefore away from mind activity is referred to as mindfulness in contemporary research. With this new experiential knowledge, whether through CBT, IFS, ACT, or a combination of approaches, you may find that reversing the cycle of depression is just the beginning of a pathway into whole new levels of personal growth and wellness.

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