Behavioral activation is a behavioral approach to treating depression that works from the “outside-in” by considering environmental aspects that serve to increase or maintain depressive symptoms. It relies on scheduling activity in order to decrease isolation and inertia and increase opportunities for positive reinforcement.
There currently different views on the nature and causes of depression and the research on the cause(s) for depression is unclear. What we do know is that there is that there is a co-occurrence of symptoms that include changes in brain chemistry and typical depressive patterns of thought and behavior. What we don’t know is whether one of these links is primary to the development and maintenance of depression.
Historically, depression has been treated with antidepressant medications. However, BA has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants and slightly better than cognitive therapies in the treatment of moderate to severe depression.
Working with Depression
Depression is different from sadness. Sadness is an emotion, whereas depression is a mood state that has a significant negative impact on our thinking and behavior.
When working to combat depression, we believe in the importance of working from both the “inside-out” and the “outside-in,” as reflected in our Transactional Model of Wellbeing. We explore factors related to the environment and the person to work toward changing the patterns of physiology, thought and behavior that maintain this painful disorder.
In addition to counseling that incorporates a compassion focused, behavioral activation approach, it will also be important to consider additional treatment options that may support improvements in mood. This can sometimes include nutritional changes, medication therapy, and/or other medical treatments.