Breaking Free from Negative Patterns: How DBT Can Help with Depression

According to the WHO, it’s estimated that nearly two hundred eighty million people around the world struggle with depression. Depression not only affects the quality of life.

If it gets bad enough, it can result in self-harm or even suicide. The good news is that there have been many advancements in treating depression in recent decades.

In addition to medication, various forms of therapy are one of the most successful treatments for coping with the effects of depression. In particular, DBT for depression is life-changing for many individuals.

However, exactly what is DBT? And how can the skills from it benefit people with depression? In this guide, we’ll be answering these questions so you can get a better sense of this important treatment option.

What Is DBT and How Does It Work?

DBT (which stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) is a specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that’s designed to handle a wide range of mental health conditions.

When Dialectical Behavioral Therapy was first introduced it was made for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Specifically, the doctor Marsha Linehan made it to address blindspots in CBT when it comes to handling people with self-harm or suicidal tendencies.

Compared to traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, DBT stresses the importance of acceptance which is reinforced by positive validation. DBT is an incredibly structured form of therapy.

In addition to sessions, you’ll also be doing a lot of homework. This is to reinforce skills that allow you to properly regulate potentially painful emotions.

It will also prepare you to handle emotional stress better, increase your interpersonal skills, and improve your overall mindfulness levels. This can help individuals address the problems and symptoms in their lives that are making their mental health worse.

Can It Help With Depression?

We mentioned that DBT was initially developed to treat Borderline Personality Disorder. So does it help with depression? The answer is yes. Indeed, many of the problems associated with depression can’t be avoided.

However, all too often, people going through depression and anxiety can make it worse by avoiding the negative thoughts and feelings that arise. Typically, they’ll try to hide from the feelings by turning to self-medication (through drugs or alcohol).

Or they might try to bury their feelings while focusing on work or relationships. Like CBT, DBT seeks to teach people strategies and tools they can use to reduce some of their symptoms.

However, perhaps more importantly, it teaches people with depression that there are some aspects of their depression that they’ll never be able to change.

Believe it or not, there can be a massive release if you stop resisting negative emotions and embrace them. This can allow the worst symptoms to run their course.

By learning how to cope with the pain of depression it can improve many of the common traits that come with it.

After going through DBT, people with depression report increased interest in activities they like, less sadness, improved concentration, and fewer of the physical symptoms associated with depression.

What DBT Skills Apply to Depression?

You can break down DBT skills into four main categories: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. All of these areas can be applied to the lives of people with depression.

Mindfulness skills allow people to be more present in the moment. This is great for combating negative thoughts that cause people to spiral into memories of the past or fears of the future.

Distress tolerance allows depressed individuals to deal with the inevitable negative emotions that arise in life. It increases your tolerance to these emotions which means you won’t immediately try to numb yourself or disconnect from others.

Emotional regulation skills help individuals gain control over emotions that can cause them to spiral and act out. For Borderline Personality Disorder individuals this tends to be anger, but for people with depression, it can include sadness, jealousy, and hopelessness.

Lastly, there are interpersonal skills. People with depression often have trouble communicating their condition and setting boundaries with friends and family. These skills set the foundation for healthy relationships which can greatly improve someone’s quality of life.

What to Expect From DBT Therapy

DBT can vary depending on the provider and program. However, generally, they consist of twenty-eight sessions that are around fifty minutes each. DBT does allow for a lot of flexibility though.

These sessions can be either individual or in a group setting. Keep in mind that this can look different for different needs.

For example, if the person is in a crisis, the person will stage an intervention to try and stabilize the person before proceeding into sessions.

How to Find a DBT Therapist in Your Area

We recommend doing a quick Google search to find DBT-certified therapists in your area. For example, if you live in California you might search for Sacramento therapists that specialize in DBT therapy.

If you have health insurance, you’ll also want to make sure that they accept whatever plan you’re on. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck paying out of pocket. You should also check to make sure that they offer the type of program that you want.

For example, if you prefer in-person sessions, you should check to see if they cater to these preferences. The same goes if you’re busy and only have time for online sessions.

Once you have two or three options, call them for an initial consultation. Remember that you have a choice in therapists.

Comfort matters here. DBT can be a vulnerable experience. So you want a mental health professional that you can feel comfortable with.

Appreciate Learning About DBT for Depression? Keep Exploring

We hope this guide helped you learn more about DBT for depression. It’s important to remember that this form of therapy won’t get rid of your depression.

However, it can give you strategies and skills to greatly reduce the symptoms.

And when combined with medication it has the potential to save lives. Want more mental health content? We have a lot of similar content on our website so keep exploring to find them all.

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