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How to Exert Cognitive Control Over your Depression

When you struggle to function normally and simple tasks become troublesome, you are experiencing a form of depression that can be very debilitating. You know it has become especially problematic when you are experiencing insomnia, mania, racing thoughts or sleeping too much. When you are experiencing these symptoms, leaving the house may become a struggle. The racing thoughts and sleep disturbances concurrent with major depressive episodes can be characterized in the DSM-5 as Bipolar Disorder. This disorder can be further categorized as Bipolar I or Bipolar II depending in alterations in major depressive episodes, mania or hypomanic episodes. According to the DSM-5, the duration of these changes must exist for a minimum duration of 2 weeks as a deviation from normal behavior.

If you are experiencing mood changes, you are not alone. Should you be opposed to the idea of taking psychotropic medication, there are cognitive and behavioral treatment strategies that may be useful if these changes are mild to moderate. You will be more equipped to manage the outcome of mood changes rather than remain helpless. You have the option to replace maladaptive coping mechanisms and medicine with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Brief History of Cognitive Therapy

According to the Beck Institute Online, Dr. Aaron Beck is known as the founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in the early 1960s for Chronic and unrelenting depression. The Dr. Beck program involves characterization of maladaptive thought processes and behaviors that not only cause depression, but also allow it to perpetuate. This kind of treatment identifies irrational thoughts such as "I am fat and therefore will never be loved." For that patient, the doctor will create a list of these forms of negative thinking and work with he patient to correct this. The goal is to get the patient to realize that being fat does not prevent someone from being loved but the withdrawal from others and unwillingness to put oneself out there in social settings does. In other words, the doctor identifies these maladaptive thoughts that guide behavior that promotes isolation, loniless, and falling further into the depths of depression. 

CBT Proposal For Treatment of Mania

 The work of Dr. Beck was meant to be built upon for different forms of treatment. Because mania is characterized by racing thoughts, high energy and inability to sleep, most often individuals diagnosed with Bipolar disorder arena drug users. This seems to be the case because drugs might alleviate those manic states and help patients achieve stability. In order to reduce the risk of drug use, a better alternarive would be to target the racing thoughts that may appear in the form of unrealistic to do lists. In other words, during mania many tasks will be attempted but not all achieved. The doctor could help the patient slow target the goals that are unrealistic and minimize overexertion of energy. By combating the cognitions and behavior that perpetuate mania, patients will be able to balance out the drastic mood changes. 

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