cognitive approach to explaining depression

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  • Created on: 06-05-19 21:38

becks cognitive theory of depression

Beck 1967 suggested a cognitive approach to explaining why some people are vulnerable to depression it is a cognition that creates this vulnerability 

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Three parts to this cognitive vulnerability

Cognitive BiasBeck 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. Beck detailed numerous cognitive biases, two of which include: over-generalisations and catastrophizing. For example, over-generalizations, where they make a sweeping conclusion based on a single incident, for example: ‘I’ve failed one end of unit test and therefore I’m going to fail ALL of my AS exams!’ Alternatively, experience catastrophizing, where they exaggerate a minor setback and believe that it’s a complete disaster, for example: ‘I’ve failed one end of unit test and therefore I am never going to study at University or get a good job!’

 Negative self-schemasA 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.A person with a negative self-schema is likely to interpret information about themselves in a negative way, which could lead to cognitive biases, such as those outlined above.

The negative triadBeck claimed that cognitive biases and negative self-schemas maintain the negative triad, 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 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.’

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range of supporting evidence that depression associated with faulty information processing, negative self -schemas and negative thinking Grazioli and Terry 2000 assessed 65 pregnant women for cognitive vulnerability before+after birth women judged more vulnerable more likely to suffer post-natal depression. Clark and Beck 1999 reviedwed research on this topic and concluded solid evidence for vulnerability factors these cognitions can be seen before depression develops supporting beck about cognition 

Becks cognitive explanation forms the basis for CBT all cognitive aspects of depression can be identified and challenged by CBT this means a therapist can identify and challenge and encourage to test if they are true this is a strength of the explanation translates to successful therapy

But becks theory does not explain the complexities of depression only at a basic level some depressed patients deeply angry and unable to explain such an extreme emotion while others suffer from hallucinations very rarely they may suffer from cotard syndrome the delusion that they are zombies it is only a simple explanation   

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Ellis ABC model

Ellis 1962 Ellis took a different approach from beck (cognitive triad) to explaining depression and started by explaining what is required for ‘good’ mental health. According to Ellis, good mental health is the result of rational thinking which allows people to be happy and pain-free, whereas depression is the result of irrational thinking, which prevents us from being happy and pain-free.

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Ellis ABC model states

Ellis proposed the A-B-C three-stage model, to explain how irrational thoughts could lead to depression. 

Activating Event unlike Beck emphasis that external events triggered irrational thoughts An event occurs, for example, you pass a friend in the corridor at school and he/she ignores you, despite the fact you said ‘hello’.

 Beliefs Your belief is your interpretation of the event, which can either be rational or irrational. A rational interpretation of the event might be that your friend is very busy and possibly stressed, and he/she simply didn’t see or hear you. An irrational interpretation of the event might be that you think your friend dislikes you and never wants to talk to you again.

 Consequences According to Ellis, rational beliefs lead to healthy emotional outcomes (for example, I will talk to my friend later and see if he/she is okay), whereas irrational beliefs lead to unhealthy emotional outcomes, including depression (for example, I will ignore my friend and delete their mobile number, as they clearly don’t want to talk to me).

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A partial explanation some cases of depression follow activating events psychologists call this reactive depression ( like the death of a loved one) and see it as different from the kind that arises from an unknown cause this theory only applies to some kinds of depression only partial 

One strength of the cognitive explanation for depression is its application to therapy. The cognitive ideas have been used to develop effective treatments for depression, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), which was developed from Ellis’s ABC model. These therapies attempt to identify and challenge negative, irrational thoughts and have been successfully used to treat people with depression, providing further support to the cognitive explanation of depression

 doesn't explain all aspects although it explains why more people are vulnerable to depression as a result of their cognitions has the same imitation as Becks it doesn't easily explain the anger associated with depression or the fact that some patients suffer hallucinations and delusions 

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