Depression Treatment

Theory and rationale of behavioural activation as treatment for depression

Behavioural activation is a development of activity scheduling, which is a component of cognitive therapy, it has two primary focuses: the use of avoided activities as a guide for activity scheduling and functional analysis of cognitive processes that involve avoidance.

activity scheduling (a way of structuring one’s day according to activities that are avoided and which is consistent with one’s valued directions).



Functional analysis: Analysis of the function of typical cognitive processes and behaviours: a way of identifying antecedents and consequences of a response, used to determine the factors that maintain depressed mood.

Contextual functional analysis consists of three main components

1)Antecedents or context
2)Behaviour and cognitive processes in response

Activity scheduling

Once functional analysis has been completed, the core of behavioural activation is gradually to identify activities and problems that the individual avoids and to establish valued directions to be followed. These are set out on planned timetables (activity schedules). Individuals are encouraged to start activity scheduling with short-term goals and to treat their timetables as a series of appointments with themselves. A major mistake is for a patient to try to tackle everything at once. The aim is to introduce small changes, building up the level of activity gradually towards long-term goals. Days should not be filled with activity for activity’s sake. The activities chosen must relate to what the individual has been avoiding and help them to act in accordance with their valued directions. Very important, Individuals are encouraged to include activities that are soothing and pleasurable, as rewards as this further helps to stimulate dopamine, which we know plays a significant role in depression.

source: (Jacobson, Martell, & Dimidjian, 2001)

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