In this episode Dr Lucy Maddox speaks to Sharon and Dr Anne Garland, about CBT for depression. Hear how Sharon describes it, and how both group and individual therapy helped.
Show Notes and Transcript
Overcoming Depression by Paul Gilbert
CBT for Perfectionism
Compassion Focussed Therapy
Image by Kevin Mueller on Unsplash
Lucy: Hello and welcome to Let’s Talk About CBT, the podcast from the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, BABCP. This podcast is all about CBT, what it is, what it’s not and how it can be useful.
In this episode we’re thinking about CBT for depression. I spoke with Dr Anne Garland who spent 25 years working with people who experience depression and Sharon, who has experienced it herself.
Both Anne and Sharon come from a nursing background. Anne now works at the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre as a consultant psychotherapist, but she used to work in Nottingham, which is where Sharon had CBT for depression. Here’s Sharon.
How would you describe what depression is like?
Sharon: When I was going to school, when I was a little girl, an infant, we would have to go over the fields because I lived in the country, and go down. I could hear the bell of the junior school but couldn’t find it because of the fog. I walked round and round, I was five, walked round and round and round in those fields trying to get to the bell where I knew I would be safe and being terrified on my own. And that’s how it feels actually. Darkness, cold, very frightening.
Lucy: I asked Anne how depression gets diagnosed and she described a range of symptoms.
Anne: In its acute phase it’s characterised by what would be considered a range of symptoms. So, tiredness, lethargy, lack of motivation, poor concentration, difficulty remembering. Some of the most debilitating symptoms are often disturbed sleep and absence of any sense of enjoyment or pleasure in life and that can be very distressing to people. People can be really plagued with suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness that life is pointless.
I think one of the most devastating things about depression as an illness is it robs people of their ability to do everyday things. So for example, getting up, getting dressed, getting washed, deciding what you want to wear can all be really impaired by the symptoms of depression. I try and help people to understand that the symptoms are real, they’re not imagined. Often people will tell me that they imagine these things or that they aren’t real and that it’s all in their mind.
Their symptoms are real, they exist in the body and do exert a really detrimental effect on just your ability to do what most of us take for granted on a day-to-day basis.
Lucy: And so it’s a lot more than sadness isn’t it?
Anne: Absolutely. It can be very profound feelings of sadness but often that’s amplified by feelings of extreme guilt, of shame, anger and anxiety is another common feature of depression.
Also, when people are very profoundly depressed they can actually just feel numb and feel nothing and that in itself can be very distressing because things that might normally move you to feel a real sense of connection. Say for example your children or your grandchildren, you may have no feelings whatsoever, and that in itself can be very alarming to people.
Lucy: The way that depression and its treatment are thought about can vary depending on who you speak to. Just like with other sorts of mental health problems. More biological viewpoints prioritise thinking about brain changes that can occur with depression while more social perspectives prioritise thinking about the context that people are part of.
Anne: As CBT tends to take a more pragmatic view of thinking about a connection between events in o