Psychological treatments for Depression This essay will discuss and compare Becks cognitive behavioural therapy for depression and the use of drug therapy as treatments for depression. They differ heavily in their ideologies with regards to what depression is caused by. Becks therapy is a cognitive and therefore focuses on thought processes. The idea being, that people with depression can change their thought negative processes to positive ones in order to ‘cure’ themselves. Whereas drug treatments focus on the biological causes for depression such as chemical imbalances and tries to revert these via the dministration of drugs.
Beck Cognitive theory of depression, which is the ideology behind CBT, has three main parts. Firstly Beck said that depressed people have an unrealistic negative outlook on their self, life experiences and future therefore resulting in depression. He called this the ‘Cognitive Triad’. For example if someone was to experience losing their Job, they might blame this on themselves, believing they are a bad person and therefore that their life will never improve because they will never get another Job, in turn causing a depressed state of mind.
CBT focuses on he patient identifying these negative thought processes and try to change them to positive cognitions. For example realizing that it wasn’t their own fault they lost their job. The second part of Becks theory was based around ‘Silent assumptions’. These are unconscious assumptions which shape our conscious cognitions. These messages largely derive from the way in which we are spoken to and behaviour we witness, by those that have a large social impact on us; Such as parents, teachers and friends.
Examples of silent assumptions might include “l must have others approval” r “l must do everything perfectly’. Beck said that believing these assumptions, although not unusual, can make a person vulnerable to depression and the key to recovery using CBT is identifying these thoughts as unhelpful and realizing that a person cannot always be perfect. The third and final part of becks model said that depressed people are prone to distorting events in their life negatively. One example is what Beck called ‘Catastrophising. This being the tendency to blow a small issue out of proportion until it becomes a major setback.
Again the focus of CBT is to dentify this negative information processing and make it positive. The main criticism of CBT is that; at its core it assumes that negative cognitions are what cause depression. Biological theorists directly contradict this idea. They say that the psychological symptoms of depression, such as negative cognitions, are caused by an underlying biological defect for instance; a chemical imbalance in the brain. Biological drug treatments focus on correcting chemical imbalances in the brain. Examples of such drugs are SSRI type medications.
SSRI stands for selective erotonin re-uptake inhibitors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which scientists have discovered to positively correlate with happiness. It is believed that depressed people therefore are lacking in serotonin. Usually when serotonin is used in the brain it is absorbed back into the brain. SSRls work to inhibit that re-uptake in order to leave more serotonin active and create a buildup of the neurotransmitter over time. However the main criticism of drug treatments in general is that they can have side drugs don’t necessarily pinpoint the individual’s problem.
Cognitive theorists would rgue that drug treatment is simply an artificial comfort for depressed people; not addressing the root cause of depression while CBT aims to change the person without the constant need to take drugs. Often CBT can be used alongside drug treatments in order to give the patient the best chance of recovery as neither treatments work for everyone. However the contradiction between these two theories really comes down to a nature versus nurture debate. Is depression a result of our biological make-up and the negative psychological effects are symptoms of that or vice versa?