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Currently the most effective treatment for major (clinical) depression is considered to be a combination of antidepressant medication and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

CBT can be very empowering, helping us to take control over our thoughts, rather than allowing our thoughts to control us us. CBT provides valuable skills and techniques to observe our thought patterns and begin the process of retraining them, enabling us to correct any negative thought habits or misinterpretations we may have that make the effects of depression worse.

While CBT is a relatively new form of therapy for depression, early philosophers such as Socrates and Epitites first documented the principles on which it is based centuries ago. Epitites said "It is not the things of this world that hurt us but what we think about them." and this view is now widely accepted throughout mainstream health care.

Thought patterns are very important in a whole range of disorders, including depression, panic and anxiety disorders and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Regardless of the cause of the disorder, our thoughts about the disorder can greatly impact the disorder itself, and hence recovery. CBT can help us to deal effectively with depression and really make a difference in our lives.

For people who have severe or 'major' depression, a combination of medication and therapy can be the best path to go. It is very difficult to focus on therapy and to discipline ourselves to do anything while we are severely depressed. The medication can improve the depression to a point where we are better able to utilise the skills and techniques we learn to get the maximum benefit from therapy.

Recent research finds that for mild to moderate depression, CBT alone is an appropriate treatment. The Royal Australian College of Psychiatry have also recently stated that CBT is the preferred treatment for Generalised Anxiety Disorder (Anxiety).

While most psychologists are trained in CBT, if you are seeing or considering seeing a psychologist, it is a good idea to check that they have skills in CBT and discuss it's potential benefits for you. Few GPs or psychiatrists are trained in CBT and if not, they may be able to refer you to someone who can. Often GPs will work in partnership with a psychologist or other therapist who can provide the CBT aspect of your treatment.

An important benefit of CBT is that it provides skills that can be used long term that will help to prevent relapse as well as improve general mental health and wellbeing.

An Overview of CBT by Dr Timothy Sharp
Challenging My Negative Thoughts By "Sally"

Two recommended books that are great reads on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are:
Beating The Blues
Feeling Good

CBT Reviews by Dr Timothy Sharp
March 8th 2002

The latest edition of the international quarterly Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy confirms what some of us have known for quite some time now. Cognitive therapy (and cognitive behaviour therapy) is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety.

In a special edition, experts from around the world reviewed the existing evidence for cognitive behaviour therapy (or CBT) as it is applied to a range of problems. Of most relevance, are the reviews of CBT for depression, anxiety and relationship problems.

Overall, the reviews found that CBT (1) is at least as effective as medications, (2) is more effective than other forms of psychotherapy and counseling, and (3) provides protection against relapse. Interestingly, several of the reviews also found that CBT is more cost-effective, over the long term, than medications.

In summary, it can be concluded that "cognitive therapy works well and should be strongly considered as a first-line treatment" for people with depression and anxiety.

For more information about these reviews you can contact Dr Timothy Sharp. Dr. Timothy Sharp & Associates provide cognitive therapy programs for depression and anxiety.

Page last reviewed: 08/01/04

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