Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) which was originally designed to treat people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It has also been found to be very effective in treating other forms of emotional or behavioral challenges including depression.
While a combination of medication and talk therapy work very well in improving symptoms of depression for most people, in some cases a different or additional approach is needed. DBT offers a comprehensive approach that includes behavioral, cognitive and acceptance-based therapy and can teach new coping skills that may help depressed individuals when other treatment approaches haven’t been entirely effective.
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How DBT was Developed
DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD, a cognitive behavioral psychologist. In her work with patients who had chronically suicidal tendencies or self-harming behavior, she found that CBT wasn’t always effective. Patients with BPD sometimes felt invalidated or misunderstood and responded with anger or dropped out of treatment altogether. She worked toward creating a method of treatment that provided validation and acceptance in order to make it more likely patients would stick with treatment.
Acceptance is a big part of DBT. If you undergo treatment with DBT, your therapist will strive to convey acceptance to you, and you’ll be encouraged to accept uncomfortable or painful thoughts, behaviors or feelings instead of struggling to push them away. By letting go of the struggle against distressing thoughts or feelings, you may find it seems more possible to change.
How DBT Works
DBT is a very structured form of treatment that consists of skills training in both individual and group settings along with phone coaching from a specially trained therapist. Between sessions, you’ll have homework to do in order to practice the skills you’re learning. Your treatment team will meet regularly to make sure they’re giving you the most effective treatment possible.
In DBT, you’ll focus on learning new life skills that can help you cope with the ups and downs of daily life including:
- Increasing interpersonal effectiveness
- Regulating painful emotions
- Tolerating emotional distress
- Developing mindfulness skills to help you become fully aware and accepting of the present moment
DBT can help you with problems that may be making your depression worse, such as self-esteem issues. Problems or challenges that may coexist along with depression can also improve by going through this structured program, such as self-harm, binge eating or substance use disorder.
Benefits of DBT and How it Can Help Depression Symptoms
Getting past symptoms of depression can be challenging when you’re experiencing overwhelming feelings of emotional pain. DBT can help you be more accepting of yourself and your current situation so you can be more motivated to make changes.
Symptoms of depression that may improve with the help of DBT include:
- Lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Persistent sadness
- Difficulty focusing, concentrating or remembering
- Physical manifestations of depression such as body aches and pains or headaches
Gradual Improvement with DBT
DBT can help you manage painful emotions and develop effective coping skills for challenges you may be facing. With the help of your therapist, you’ll work toward finding a balance between acceptance and change. Gradually, you’ll be able to improve negative or unhealthy thoughts so that you can experience less frequent or intense symptoms of depression.
When treatment methods aren’t bringing about the improvement expected or hoped for, DBT may be the answer you are looking for. Depression can make you feel consumed with persistent, crippling feelings of sadness or hopelessness. With DBT, positive reinforcement from your therapist or support group along with learning new life skills can help you feel more motivated to change so you can work toward having a life worth living.
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How DBT was Developed
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, please contact us at (855) 409-0204 or submit the form below and a treatment specialist will contact you.