Understanding Depression With Beck’s Cognitive Triad

Understanding Depression With Beck's Cognitive Triad

Beck’s Model of Depression: Also called The Cognitive Triad or Negative Triad

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent low mood, feeling of sadness and a loss of interest.

This is a persistent problem, and not a passing one, lasting on an average 6 to 8 months, affecting the quality of life of an individual.

The causes of depression are multifaceted :

  • genetics
  • biological ( changes in the neurotransmitter level of the brain) 
  • environmental or psychosocial.

Some people are at a higher risk of depression due to life events like bereavement, divorce, work issues family and financial problems, or   simply due to acute stress.

Childhood trauma, some prescription drugs, (steroids) and recreational drugs like alcohol or amphetamines are strongly linked to depression.

Chronic pain syndrome, and conditions like diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases can also make a person depression prone.

 

The Cognitive Triad is a cognitive model developed by Aaron Beck to describe the cause of depression.

He proposed that three types of negative thoughts lead to depression:

  • thoughts about the self,
  • thoughts about the world/environment,
  • thoughts about the future.

People suffering from depression will attribute negative and unpleasant events to their personal failings (self) and to the unfair and unforgiving world.

The future is perceived to be bleak and devoid of hope with their troubles lasting forever.

Thus “hopelessness”.

“Helplessness and worthless” are the dominant feelings in a person suffering from depression.

 

Components of this triad often feed and strengthen each other.

No wonder , being so focused on the negatives , a depressed person ,when asked to share “what is going good in your life?’’ cannot find an appropriate answer.

Beck developed a cognitive explanation of depression which has three components:

  1. cognitive bias
  2. negative self-schemas
  3. the negative triad.

 

1) Cognitive Bias/ Cognitive Distortions

Beck found that depressed people are more likely to focus on the negative aspects of a situation, while ignoring the positives.

They are prone to distorting and misinterpreting information, a process known as cognitive bias or cognitive distortions Beck (1967) identifies a number of illogical thinking processes (i.e. distortions of thought processes). These illogical thought patterns are self-defeating, and can cause great anxiety or depression for the individual.

1. Arbitrary interference:

Drawing conclusions on the basis of sufficient or irrelevant evidence: for example, thinking you are worthless because an open air concert you were going to see has been rained off.

2. Selective abstraction:

Focusing on a single aspect of a situation and ignoring others: E.g., you feel responsible for your team losing a football match even though you are just one of the players on the field.

3. Magnification:

exaggerating the importance of undesirable events. E.g., if you scrape a bit of paint work on your car and, therefore, see yourself as totally awful driver.

4. Minimisation:

underplaying the significance of an event. E.g., you get praised by your teachers for an excellent term’s work, but you see this as trivial.

5. Overgeneralization:

drawing broad negative conclusions on the basis of a single insignificant event. E.g., you get a D for an exam when you normally get straight As and you, therefore, think you are stupid.

6. Personalisation:

Attributing the negative feelings of others to yourself. E.g., your teacher looks really cross when he comes into the room, so he must be cross with you.

2) Negative self-schemas

A schema is a ‘package’ of knowledge, which stores information and ideas about our self and the world around us.

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.

10 Ways To Survive Loneliness: Lessons I Learned From Being Alone

10 Ways To Survive Loneliness

It often gets difficult to Survive loneliness. It grips you like a never ending ailment, you try to get rid of it but it irks you more and leads you to the dark!

Loneliness can be compared to a thick winter’s fog.

It stifles and strangles you, pulling you under a heavy blanket of depression, pervading all that you see.

Loneliness causes you to filter life through a lens of desolation and deep despair. Your spirit becomes so heavy with the weight of your isolation that you often feel like laying down, and dying.

I know. I’ve been there many times.

Whether you feel loneliness in a crowd, in your marriage, in your workplace, friend circle, religion, culture or simply by yourself, there is hope.

I’ve felt alone for many years of my life, either because of my temperament, or the religion that was imposed on me since birth, which taught that outsiders were “evil”, causing me to distance myself from everyone. Since then, I’ve left religion, but still find it difficult connecting with people.

While I still feel like an Outsider, in the year prior to meeting Sol, I discovered how to be alone but not feel lonely.

I want to share with you today how exactly I did this.

Today, I want to share with you how I turned my desert of loneliness into a garden of Solitude.

How to Survive Loneliness

I hope these 10 recommendations will open some new doors for you:

1. Learn to have fun by yourself again

This was perhaps the most important method I used to overcome my loneliness.

When we lose friends or family members, or simply drift away from everyone around us, we tend to lose all sense of fun and playfulness, preferring to wallow in our misery instead.

Realize that you can have fun alone, and that you don’t need to rely on others to make you happy.

The person who can enjoy life alone can never have happiness taken away from them – to truly understand this is liberating!

I started by sticking flyers about diarrhea all over the walls and mirrors of a woman’s bathroom. I never knew fecal matter could be so freeing! Start by doing something small that you enjoy. If you used to like being wacky, be wacky. If you used to like being reckless, be reckless.  Take small steps first.

Regain what you have lost, by yourself. You will be a stronger and better person that way. Why? Because you won’t rely on, or use, other people for your entertainment.

 

2. Learn to laugh again

As you may know, laughing has been scientifically proven to benefit your health. But what happens when you’re lonely? Well, chances are, you don’t laugh. At all. I didn’t.

When you really think about it, it’s pitiful how much we rely on others to make us happy.

That’s why learning how to laugh again, by yourself is so important. It empowers you, and once again, it allows you to not use other people for your entertainment. They’re not vending machines after all!

If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, try putting on a funny film. Not only does it take your focus away from yourself and your misery, but it reboots those endorphins in your brain again. Funny pictures can also help, like those found on this website. Thank god for LOLCats.

 

3. Have intimate time, alone

I realize how intimidating that sounds. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you have a downstairs rendezvous or anything (although that could help).

My definition of intimate time is spending quality time with yourself, just like with a friend, or someone you love.

I did this by spending a few minutes every day looking at myself in a mirror. I understand how bizarre that sounds, but staring deeply into your eyes and smiling every day really makes you feel happy.

One result of this strange practice of mine was increased self-acceptance. Every day we tend to look at ourselves in mirrors to pamper and preen, but only superficially. But have you ever stopped to stare at yourself – earnestly? Try it, and you may be blown away at how much self-awareness you develop.

 

What To Do When You’re Feeling Depressed, Isolated And Lost

What To Do When You're Feeling Depressed, Isolated And Lost

Has your life gotten to that place where you are feeling depressed, isolated and lost all the time?

Are you feeling hopeless, alone and full of dread and worried about what the future will hold?

If you are, I am so sorry. Being depressed and feeling alone is a horrible place to be!

Fortunately, there are things you can do to stop feeling depressed, isolated and lost all the time.

#1 – Figure out the why.

There are two kinds of depression, situational and chemical. They have similar symptoms but different causes. Knowing what kind of depression you have is the first step to dealing with it.

Situational depression is caused by something that happens in your life. When something big happens that makes you sad, like the death of a parent or a divorce or the loss of a job, you can become situationally depressed. This kind of depression usually has a beginning, caused by a specific event, and an end, and is often treated differently from chemical depression.

Chemical depression is the result your brain chemistry being off in such a way that leads to depression. You are most often born with chemical depression but it can also by caused by a traumatic life event.

Chemical depression can happen to you even if your life is going great.

So, ask yourself some questions about what your life looks like these days to help you figure out what kind of depression you might have.

If you think you have situational depression, read on. If you think you have chemical depression here is an article for you to read to learn more about next steps.

 

#2 – Do what makes you feel good.

When we are feeling depressed, isolated and lost, our inclination is to collapse into our life. We stay in bed, we don’t shower or eat well and cut off contact with those we love.

Let me tell you: if you are feeling depressed, collapsing is absolutely the worst thing that you can do. Instead, it is important to do things that make you feel good.

For me, I keep a list of things to do when I am feeling depressed. 1. Take a long, hard walk (the endorphins are great for my depression). 2. Do yoga. 3. Watch The Walking Dead. 4. Take a bath. 5. Go to the movies. 6. Have sex. 7. Eat Pad Thai. When I am depressed I do one, or all, of those things and my depression is often lifted.

So, what makes you happy? Write out a list, when you aren’t depressed, of what makes you happy so that when you are depressed you are ready.

 

#3 – Occupy your mind.

Unfortunately, when we are feeling depressed, isolated and lost, our worst enemy is that brain of ours.

While we are lying on the couch feeling sorry for ourselves, our brain is actively buying into it all.

You are a loser, it says. You have no friends. You aren’t good at anything. You will never find love.  You suck at your job. And on and on.

And, chances are, that none of those things are true. That you are not a loser, you have plenty of friends, you are talented, love is out there and your boss thinks you are doing great. But your brain, when you are depressed, just doesn’t go there.

It is really important, when you are feeling depressed and isolated, to keep your brain busy.  Yoga is a really good way to do this – you are so busy trying to figure out the damn pose that you don’t have a chance to think about anything. It also has the side benefit of toning your body and making you feel strong, which can be helpful.

Other options for keeping your mind quiet are: reading, going to a movie, hanging out with friends, working. Meditation is also an option but I just get more depressed when I try, and fail, to meditate. If you can do it, go for it!

What do you like to do that will help you quiet that mind of yours, the mind that is feeding into those feelings that are bringing you down? Figure it out and do it!