Understanding Depression With Beck’s Cognitive Triad

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These schemas are developed during childhood and according to Beck, depressed people possess negative self-schemas, which may come from negative experiences, for example criticism, from parents, peers or even teachers. Beck believed that depression prone individuals develop a negative self-schema.

They possess a set of beliefs and expectations about themselves that are essentially negative and pessimistic.

Beck claimed that negative schemas may be acquired in childhood as a result of a traumatic event.

Experiences that might contribute to negative schemas include:

  • Death of a parent or sibling.
  • Parental rejection, criticism, over protection, neglect or abuse.
  • Bullying at school or exclusion from peer group.
  • People with negative self schemas become prone to making logical errors in their thinking and they tend to focus selectively on certain aspects of a situation while ignoring equally relevant information.

 

3) The Negative Triad

Beck claimed that cognitive biases and negative self-schemas maintain the negative triad. It’s a negative and irrational view of ourselves, our future and the world around us.




For sufferers of depression, these thoughts occur automatically and are symptomatic of depressed people.

the cognitive triad
The Negative Triad

The negative triad demonstrates these three components, including:

  • The self – ‘nobody loves me.’
  • The world – ‘the world is an unfair place.’
  • The future – ‘I will always be a failure.’

Beck thinks that the negative thoughts of depressed individuals tend to appear quickly and automatically. They are reflexes, and are not the subject of a conscious control. Such thoughts often lead to negative emotions, such as sadness, despair, fear, etc.

 

Measuring aspects of the triad

A number of instruments have been developed to attempt to measure negative cognition in the three areas of the triad.

The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is a well-known questionnaire for scoring depression based on all three aspects of the triad.

Other examples include the Beck Hopelessness Scale for measuring thoughts about the future and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale for measuring views of the self.

The Cognitive Triad Inventory (CTI) was developed by Beckham et al. to attempt to systematically measure the three aspects of Beck’s triad.

The CTI aims to quantify the relationship between “therapist behaviour in a single treatment session to changes in the cognitive triad” and “patterns of changes to the triad to changes in overall depressive mood”.

This inventory has since been adapted for use with children and adolescents in the CTI-C, developed by Kaslow et al.




 

Dealing with the depressive triad

Negative and unrealistic thoughts can cause us distress and result in problems.

When a person suffers with psychological distress, the way in which they interpret situations becomes skewed, which in turn has a negative impact on the actions they take.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy aims to help people become aware of when they make negative interpretations, and of behavioral patterns which reinforce the distorted thinking.  Cognitive therapy helps people to develop alternative ways of thinking and behaving which aims to reduce their psychological distress.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy which can be used to treat people with a wide range of mental health problems.




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CONSULTING PSYCHOLOGIST / AUTHOR / LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT COACH / EDUCATIONIST Paromita Mitra Bhaumik is a committed, knowledgeable and capable psychology expert working on psychological wellbeing, essential skills building, Coaching and writing for awareness for the last 25 years. She is the Founder Director of Anubhav Positive Psychology Clinic at Kolkata, India. A registered psychologist with the Rehabilitation Council Of India, ( R.C.I.) and a Life Associate Member with the Indian Psychiatric Society (I.P.S), Paromita has been trained in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (C.B.T) and Stress Management under professor Stephen Palmer at the Institute of Stress Management in London. She has also received an extensive training in Neuropsychology from National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangaluru , India. Apart from being a certified coach for Neuro-Linguistic Programming (N.L.P), she is a qualified coach for Directive Communication Psychology (D.C trainer) trained by Arthur Carmazzi, for skills building. As a renowned coach, Paromita Mitra Bhaumik has the experience of having conducted over 300 workshops and training programmes in India and abroad. Her paper on the mental health of the senior citizens in India was well appreciated at the Shippensburg University U.S.A.Paromita Mitra Bhaumik has edited and contributed to the international editions of books on psychology and education by Pearson Global. She is also a Resource Person with Pearson Education for the last decade. She is a prolific writer and orator who draws inspiration from her subject, psychology and the life around. She is a writer at wordpress.com ( Palette by Paromita mitra Bhaumik) and at The Minds Journal.