What will you learn from this summary?
Do you feel depressed? Do you think that you are worthless and that there’s no point in living? Dr. David Burns has created this book to help you get better. You don’t need any drugs or hospitalization. You can use Cognitive Therapy on your own to beat the mental illness. Depression is easy and quick to cure if you just know the right method. Many people have done it, and you can do it too.
Who should read this summary?
Anyone who is feeling down, patients who are suffering from depression and who are looking for an effective cure, and therapists who want to help their patients using Cognitive Therapy
About the author
David Burns is a professor and psychiatrist at Stanford University. He popularized Cognitive Therapy and created the Burns Depression Checklist. Dr. Burns’ lectures and studies have helped a lot of patients and therapists around the world. He has received several awards for his work.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
Have you ever felt you’re not good enough? Have you ever felt you have no desire to move or do anything? The list of negative feelings that put you down never ends. When these negative feelings stay for a long time, they distort your mental state. You may think that when you procrastinate, you are acting like a normal human being. If you look closely, you may find that you are depressed.
In this book, you will learn how to understand yourself better. You will learn how to identify your depression and how to know how worse your depression is. You will also learn a new method for treating depression called Cognitive Therapy. Depending on the rules of this approach, you can start helping yourself feel better. You don’t need excessive therapy sessions because Cognitive Therapy is all about changing your thoughts.
When you start thinking positive thoughts, your mental health will slowly improve. If you want to understand your depression, if you want to take responsibility for your treatment, then this book is a perfect choice. It has the knowledge and the application techniques you need. You can even find tests that can monitor your progress. With this book, you would not need medication or exhausting therapy sessions. It’s time you start to take care of yourself, on your own, just by changing the way you think.
A Breakthrough in the Treatment of Mood Disorders
Depression is a well-known mental disease that most people suffer from. Depression is dangerous because it could lead to suicide. The traditional way of treating depression is through psychotherapy and drug therapy. Recently, psychologists found a more effective way of treating this disease. They call it “Cognitive Therapy”.This treatment approach first appeared in 1950. Dr. Albert Ellis and Dr. Aaron T. Beck are the ones who started this revolution. During later years, the research on this method grew bigger, and Cognitive Therapy became a popular adopted method.
Cognitive Therapy can help change your mood fast. This type of treatment is very effective. It can also help you understand yourself better and control your mood changes better. To test how effective Cognitive Therapy is, a group of psychologists in Pennsylvania made a study. They tried to compare and contrast the results of Cognitive Therapy and drug therapy. They chose more than forty depressed patients. The patients were suffering from severe cases of depression, and they believed that their lives were over. Some of them were even suicidal. The patients were divided into two groups. The first group received Cognitive Therapy and the second group received drug therapy.
For twelve weeks, the patients were tested for improvement. They were tested by different doctors to ensure the objectivity of the results. The outcome of this experiment was shocking. The results proved that Cognitive Therapy was as effective as using antidepressants. In some cases, Cognitive Therapy was even more effective. It was also quicker to show positive results than drugs. If someone is suffering from clinical depression for years, and he tried drug therapy, he may experience a lot of side effects. With Cognitive Therapy, the improvement is evident since the treatment focuses on the mind of the patient. Cognitive Therapy is a treatment of your thoughts, it is more effective, and it causes no damage to your physical health.
How to Diagnose your Moods: the First Step in the Cure
If you are wondering whether you are suffering from depression, there is a simple test that you can do by yourself. In this chapter, you’re going to discover a test called BDC. It stands for Burns Depression Checklist. It is a questionnaire that you answer by ticking a few boxes. This questionnaire is simple, but it is very accurate in diagnosing your case. According to the score you get, you can know whether you are happy, normal, or depressed. You can even know the stage of your depression, whether you are mildly depressed, moderately depressed, or extremely depressed.
The BDC can also be used to evaluate your progress. You may think that it is dangerous for a person to try to cure his depression. When treating a mental disease, deciding that you need help and that you want to cure your illness is the first step to treatment. For example, if you take the BDC test and you score from 0 to 5, this means that you are happy and you don’t need clinical help. If your score is from 6 to 10, it means that you may be feeling down, but you are not depressed.
Once you hit the 11 to 25 mark, you are depressed. In this stage, your depression may be mild, but if it lasts for a long time, it may become dangerous. At first, you can treat yourself using self-help books. If you don’t see progress, then you need to ask for professional help. If your score is from 25 to 50, then you are moderately depressed. The word moderate may mean a little bit of depression, but it may be dangerous. This type of depression may showcase some extreme cases of violence. If you are mildly depressed for over two weeks, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
When your score is higher than 50, you are in danger. It means that you are extremely depressed and that you need to seek help immediately. But don’t be scared. Extreme cases of depression are usually easy and quick to heal.
Understanding your Moods: You Feel the Way You Think
Most people believe that depression is related to the way we feel, but this illness is something different. Your brain is the main cause of your depression. It’s the way you think, that affects the way you feel. When you always think negative thoughts, you find yourself attacked with sudden depression episodes. You may believe that it is part of life, or that it is your mood that day. If you try to understand yourself better, you will find that your thoughts are responsible for all your misery.
Now we know that depression is caused by negative thinking. There are ten cognitive disorders or thinking disorders explained in this chapter. Find which one of these is the real cause of your depression, because if you do, then you can treat the illness easily. First is the all-or-nothing thinking. It refers to a person who evaluates his or her personality and achievements by extreme measures. For example, perfectionists believe that, if they get a B on a test, they are already a failure.
The second cognitive disorder is a mental filter. Sometimes when a person is depressed, he picks one negative thing to focus on and ignores the rest. It is like wearing a unique type of glasses that only show negative aspects of life. Some go further by turning positive thoughts into negative ones. It is the third cognitive disorder called disqualifying the positive. An example of this is a depressed woman who was one of Dr. David Burns’ patients. She was confined to the hospital because of her condition.
Anna was convinced that she was the worst human being on earth. Because she believed that she was bad, she thought that everyone hated her and that she would always be alone. She thought that in this life, no one would ever care for her. Dr. Burns tried to convince Anna that she was liked by the other patients and the staff in the hospital. She refused to believe him. Her excuse was that these people who liked her didn’t know her in the real world. In the outside world, she was a horrible person, and she knew that if they saw her, they would hate her.
Dr. Burns tried to explain again. He told Anna that outside the hospital, there were also people who like her. She had family and friends who cared about her. They were waiting for her to come home. Anna still refused to believe Dr. Burns. She told him that anyone who loves her didn’t know the person she is. Deep down, Anna was convinced that she was worthless. Anna disqualified the possibility of having a positive relationship with anyone. Her depression was keeping her from seeing the truth. You may not be suffering from extreme cases such as Anna, but you should be aware of the type of cognitive disorder that is the root cause of your depression.
Start by Building Self-Esteem
Did you know that research shows that 80% of depressed people have low self-esteem? In most cases, depressed patients believe that they are worthless. They may be the best people in the world, yet they think that they are the worst and that everyone hates them. Not only will they think that. They even go further to convince everyone that they are worthless. You see friends and family look down on these depressed people, not because they are losers, but because they made everyone believe in that “I am a loser” story.
For example, Jennifer was a writer who finished a novel. When her book was about to be published, she had a panic attack. She decided to seek help from Dr. Burns. Jennifer told him that she visited several therapists before, and no one could help her cure her illness. During her sessions in the past, she learned that her depression was caused by her desire to be perfect. She also learned that the desire for perfectionism came from her mother. Jennifer’s mother was a perfectionist, and she raised her to be that way. Jennifer told Dr. Burns that she spent all her life trying to please her mother, and she never succeeded.
What Jennifer ignored was that there was no such thing as a perfect person or a perfect life. Jennifer knew her problem, and she knew the reason. She didn’t know the right solution. She went to many therapists, and no one gave her an answer. She wanted practical advice to cure her depression. Dr. Burns gave Jennifer a practical plan. He told her that to raise her self-esteem, she had to change the way she thought, felt, and acted. First, she had to be aware of her negative self-talk. She needed to write them down, and then try to turn them into positive energy. Through this technique, Jennifer will be more aware of her weakness.
Over time, she will be able to differentiate between reality and the illusions caused by her cognitive disorder. Another method Jennifer could use is a wrist counter. Each time she had a negative thought, she would click the button on the device. Dr. Burns explained that during the first weeks, the negative thoughts would be high, then they will be stable, then they will start to go down. It’s all in the way we think. Once we change our thought, our feelings will change as well. Once we change our feelings, our actions will also change. That’s the cure for depression in a nutshell.
Do-Nothingism: How to Beat It?
In the previous chapter, we discussed the importance of our thoughts on our state of depression. If we cure our thoughts, we change the way we feel and the way we behave. Sometimes the problem is not in our thoughts but our willpower. In some cases, when you are depressed, you don’t feel like getting up at all. You lie on the bed all day. This lack of motivation and willpower causes much damage. First, by doing nothing, you ignore everything painful.
Then you start to feel down. When you do nothing for days, your sense of self-worth decreases. You start thinking that you are a loser, and you make people around you believe that too. Nancy was a patient who suffered from the uncontrollable desire to do nothing. She ran a boutique, and during the week she was buried in her work. During the busy workdays, she finds herself productive. The problem was during the weekend. Once Nancy rolled into bed on Friday night, she never left till she had to go to work Monday morning.
Nancy recorded her thoughts as Dr. David Burns. She realized that she had no desire to do anything, so she was waiting for that desire to come knocking on her door. As long as she was not motivated, she didn’t feel like moving a muscle. Nancy also realized that because she lived alone, she didn’t feel like doing anything on the weekend. She kept recording her thoughts on the chart that Dr. Burns provided. Nancy started to see the problem, and she slowly felt better. During the first weeks, Nancy was able to leave her bed in the morning, eat breakfast and take a shower.
She reported to Dr. Burns that by doing that, she felt so much more productive. She even decided to meet friends during the weekends and go to the movies or have dinner. As her cognitive therapy continued, Nancy realized that she was no longer depressed. Procrastination may seem like a normal thing. You may believe that you are just born lazy or that you have to wait to be in the mood to do something. In reality, you may be depressed. Once you start reflecting on your thoughts, you’ll realize that you can get better. You can wake up, and you can do everything that you need to do.
Verbal Judo: Learn to Talk Back When You Are Under the Fire of Criticism
In previous chapters, we learned the importance of our self-talk on the state of our mind. If you always say negative words to yourself, you are bound to feel upset. If you keep putting yourself down with self-criticism, you will be depressed. Sometimes your self-criticism is kindled by the words you hear from someone else. You need to develop some techniques to know how to deal with this kind of remark.
First, you need to take criticism as objectively as you can. You have to remember that these hurtful words are the opinion of a person who could be right or wrong. If they are right, then you can consider their advice and change for the better. If they are wrong, then ignore them and believe in who you are. You can learn from this story. Arthur was a resident psychiatrist. He had a patient who complained to the supervisor about him. When this patient said that he was harsh, Arthur felt depressed. He went into a deep state of self-criticism. He thought that his career was over and that no one could trust him now. Arthur felt worthless.
When we look closely at the case of Arthur, we find that the source of his depression was not the negative comment of the patient, but his thoughts. As soon as he received criticism, Arthur felt scared. He started to blame himself, and he was convinced that he was going to lose his job. What if the patient is wrong? The idea that Arthur is harsh is just one patient’s opinion. That is just one negative comment that Arthur can ignore. If the patient was right, then Arthur could work on himself to improve.
Feeling Angry? What’s Your IQ?
The acronym IQ usually refers to the degree of intelligence a person has. The IQ that Dr. David Burns refers to is Irritation Quotient. Do you get irritated quickly by the simplest of things? Or do you have high levels of tolerance towards disturbing situations? When you feel angry, you have two options. It’s either you keep it in, or you explode and make a scene. When you decide to bottle your anger, you will feel depressed over time. On the other hand, if you act out on your anger, you will hurt other people.
It is good to live without being angry at people, so you need to use your IQ or Irritation Quotient. You have to remember that it’s not the situation itself that made you angry, but the way you perceive that situation. It’s all in your head. When you analyze the situation carefully, you can calm down and find the best solution. Take the example of Peter, a father who just came home from work. He had a stressful day, and he just wanted to rest. He put his kid to bed and watched TV. As Peter was enjoying his time, something annoying happened. His kid woke up and came crawling towards him.
Now, Peter was the one responsible for reacting to this event. He could get angry because he wants to relax, and the kid won’t leave him alone. Or Peter can fall into depression, thinking that he was miserable and that he had no control over his life. Or he can be happy. He can look at his kid and feel proud because the toddler just made his first step. Peter could open his arms and welcome his son with a big smile. It’s all up to Peter. If we think about this example, we will realize that a lot of parents miss happy events because they let their anger get the best of them. We need to be smart, and we need to look at the world with a positive and objective eye.
Ways of Defeating Guilt
Another cause of depression is guilt. Some people feel guilty all the time. They blame themselves for everything that happens around them. When they do something wrong, they start believing that they are bad people. Feelings of guilt have different effects on the mental state of the patient. The impact varies according to the duration, intensity, and consequences of guilty thoughts. The perfect example to clarify this point is the case of Janice. She was a teacher who was suffering from severe depression.
Two memories distorted her mental state. She kept remembering how she shoplifted twice when she was fifteen years old. Although Janice was striving to be an honest person, the memories of these two incidents ruined her chances of enjoying a happy and healthy life. Janice kept on thinking that she was a bad person and a thief. Her guilt was so intense, and it stayed with her for a very long time. She even reached the point where she would pray to God to take her life every night. Janice never wanted to wake up again and face the world as the dirty fake person that she thought she was.
Due to the duration and intensity of her guilt, the consequences were very damaging. One day, Janice took her husband’s pistol, and she pulled the trigger. Fortunately, the gun was not loaded correctly, and she misfired. Janice felt even more depressed because she thought that she was so worthless to the point that she could not even kill herself.
Guilt can be a very dangerous trigger for depression, and as you saw in this example, it can even lead to suicide. If you have guilty thoughts like Janice, you can prevent them from developing into severe depression. You can find out more about Cognitive Therapy and the Depression Checklist of Dr. David Burns. You cannot change the past, but you can do your best in the present and look forward to a better future. The thoughts, feelings, and actions that you have today will make a difference in your life. Let the past go and focus on improving your present.
Depression is a mental illness that most people experience at some point in their lives. Some people may be aware of their mental state. Others may keep on living boring and hopeless lives without knowing the cause or finding a cure. In this book, you learned a new treatment called Cognitive Therapy. This approach focused on the importance of your thoughts and their effects on your feelings and behavior. If you are depressed, then you must learn to identify the cause, cure the cause, and monitor your progress.
You also learned that by knowing the cause of your depression, you are taking the first step to treatment. This book provided you with insights and applicable techniques. It also gave tests and methods that you can use to manage your condition. Whether you have a guilty conscience, suffer from low self-esteem, or get angry all the time, you can change. You don’t have to be depressed. You don’t have to live a sad, lonely life. If you change the way you think, then you can change the way you feel and act. You can be the happiest and healthiest person in the world. Remember that you are the boss of your own life, start moving, and start feeling good.