What is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for the treatment of major depressive disorder (clinical depression)?

Updated: Oct 07, 2019
  • Author: Jerry L Halverson, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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CBT is directed and time limited, usually involving between 10 and 20 treatments. Cognitive therapy (CT) is the most widely practiced version of CBT for depression. It is based on the premise that patients who are depressed exhibit the “cognitive triad” of depression, which includes a negative view of themselves, the world, and the future. [130] Related to the cognitive triad, depressed patients are believed to exhibit cognitive distortions that may maintain these negative beliefs. [131] Beck, Rush, Shaw, and Emery [131] postulated that negative automatic thoughts and distortions in thinking arise from problematic schemas, which are cognitive structures that influence how information is interpreted and recalled. CBT for depression typically includes behavioral strategies (i.e., activity scheduling), as well as cognitive restructuring for the purpose of changing negative automatic thoughts and addressing maladaptive schemas.

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