Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Cognitive Approach to Depression

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Cognitive Approach to Depression

The cognitive approach in psychology looks at how our thinking affects our behaviour and how irrational thinking can cause mental illness. We will present two models - Albert Ellis' cognitive approach to depression: the A-B-C three-stage model and Beck's cognitive triad theory. In addition, we will also look at the cognitive approach from the perspective of depression treatments and therapies and discuss the evaluation of the cognitive approach to depression.

What is the scope of cognitive psychology?

Cognitive psychology explores all mental processes and functions everything that happens in the brain, including decision making, memory processes, learning, perception, thought processes, and attention. It studies how people process and store the information they take in from their environment, draw conclusions, and react based on that information. There are four main approaches in cognitive psychology:

  • Experimental cognitive psychology

  • Computational cognitive science

  • Cognitive neuropsychology

  • Cognitive neuroscience

What is the importance of cognitive psychology?

Within its framework, cognitive psychology helps us better understand ourselves and others. It gives psychologists a deeper insight into developing new ways to help people improve cognition. Cognitive psychology offers us many benefits, including:

  • Understanding and fixing mood problems.

  • Developing better ways of learning.

  • Changing unwanted behaviours and actions.

  • Processing past traumas to be more at peace in the present and future.

  • Being able to make thoughtful life decisions.

Cognitive Approach to Depression, a human head with a light bulb next to it, StudySmarterA brain is a powerful tool of human anatomy, flaticon.com

What are the cognitive approaches to treating depression?

Cognitive approaches are used to treat various psychological problems such as depression. Depression can be explained by Ellis' (1977) A-B-C three-step model and Beck's (1967) cognitive triad.

Albert Ellis' cognitive approach to depression: the A-B-C three-stage model (1977)

Cognitive approaches are used to treat various psychological problems such as depression. In 1977, Albert Ellis' put forward the A-B-C three-stage model to explain the onset of depression.

Ellis emphasised that a person's mental health can tip in either direction depending on their beliefs and assumptions about their life experiences. Some people's assumptions about their life events are irrational and guide them to take inappropriate actions that affect their chances of living a happy and pain-free life.He suggested that it is not a single negative event that triggers depression but results from irrational thoughts triggered by negative events. Ellis proposed the three-stage A-B-C model, which explains how depression can result from irrational thinking.

  1. Activating event

This could be an actual occurrence of a person's behaviour or attitude.

A girl is sitting with a group of classmates working on a project. She makes a suggestion, but none of the group members immediately incorporates it into the project.

  1. Beliefs

Any event that occurs can be interpreted rationally or irrationally. The term 'beliefs' refers to what someone believes about the event. A rational interpretation would be something like 'they must be very busy working just now and didn't have the time to respond yet.' An irrational belief would be 'no one took my suggestion into account, it must be rubbish, and they are ignoring me.'

  1. Consequences

This refers to the emotional and behavioural consequences of the event. Irrational beliefs lead to unhealthy consequences.

Emotional: the girl from the first example is hurt because the group didn't acknowledge her suggestion.

Behavioural: she refuses to contribute to the project.

Note that the activating event does not directly lead to the consequences. It is a person's beliefs that cause the consequences.

Evaluation of the cognitive approach to depression: The A-B-C three-stage model by Ellis

  • Ellis' ABC model significantly contributed to the treatments of depression, as it successfully combats negative, irrational thinking. Two types of this model include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Rational Emotional Behavioural Therapy (REBT).

  • However, this model is essentially based on correlation. It is not clear whether depression causes this irrational thinking or vice versa.

Beck's cognitive triad (1967)

Similar to Albert Ellis' cognitive approach to depression: the A-B-C three-stage model Beck proposed that cognitive factors cause the onset of depression. However, both theories differ in opinion regarding which factors contribute to depression.

Beck's theory proposed a cognitive explanation of depression consisting of cognitive bias, negative self-schemas, and a negative triad.

  1. Cognitive bias

The process describes how depressed people misinterpret and distort information. Cognitive bias suggests that depressed people interpret everything negatively without paying attention to positive reasons. Beck has developed many cognitive biases, two of which are overgeneralisation and catastrophising.

Overgeneralisation

This is when a person directly draws limitless conclusions from a small event.

'I did not present myself well in the first interview. Now, I will do badly in the following interviews and a case study and won't get the job.'

Catastrophising

This is when a person believes that a minor mishap will result in a complete disaster.

'I did not introduce myself well in the first interview. I will always mess up in interviews and never get a job.'

  1. Negative self-schemas

Schemas are knowledge packages that store information about the world and ourselves, developed in childhood. According to Beck, depressed people tend to have negative self-schemas about themselves resulting from negative childhood experiences such as criticism or bullying. This negative self-image can be a cause of cognitive biases.

  1. Negative triad

The cognitive biases and the negative self-schemas form the negative triad. The negative triad implies a negative view of self, a pessimistic view of the future and the world. The negative triad occurs automatically in depressed people.

Cognitive Approach to Depression, Beck's cognitive triad, StudySmarterBeck's cognitive triad, StudySmarter Originals

Evaluation of the cognitive approach to depression: Beck's cognitive triad (1967)

  • Lewinsohn et al. (2001) conducted a study of adults, in which they measured their self-esteem and depression-related cognitions for one year. He found that negative thinking was an existing risk factor in depression, supporting Beck's model. However, this was only for participants with intermediate scores for dysfunctional and negative attitudes, not those with very low or high scores.

  • A weakness of the cognitive approach (both Ellis' and Beck's models) is that it does not consider genetic factors in the cognitive explanation of depression.

  • The causal relationship between pessimistic thinking and depression has not yet been proven.

Cognitive approach to treating depression

Many psychologists use the cognitive approach to treat psychological disorders or problems. Treatment of depression using the cognitive approach involves therapy to help change cognitive processes.

In cognitive behavioural therapy, irrational and distorted thought processes are challenged to change the patient's behaviour based on the new thought pattern. Therapists help patients identify the negative patterns in their logic that make them depressed. Then, they guide them to use alternative ways of thinking and interpreting life events.

Cognitive Approach to Depression, Pessimistic thoughts, StudySmarterPessimistic thoughts, pixaby.com

Ellis' rational emotive behaviour therapy

Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) is a type of cognitive behaviour therapy that challenges irrational thoughts and beliefs by disputing them. The therapist confronts the patient by questioning the logic behind their irrational beliefs and replacing them with effective beliefs. Two ways of doing this are:

  • Challenging the logic behind the patient's beliefs with logic disputes, e.g., asking, 'Does this way of thinking about this situation make sense to you?'
  • Using empirical disputation, in which the therapist looks for evidence to support the patient's belief, e.g., 'What evidence leads you to believe that your belief is true?'

At the same time, in behavioural therapy, the therapist gives the patient homework to check their negative beliefs. The motive for this homework is for the patient to recognise their unrealistic beliefs and consider them false.

A person who feels anxious in social settings may be given the task of meeting two friends at a fair.

Beck's cognitive behavioural therapy

Using Beck's model, the therapist will help the patient identify their pessimistic thoughts about themselves, their future, and their world. The therapist will then allow them to challenge these beliefs by discussing the logic that argues for and against them. Each therapy is guided according to the patient's needs.Like in REBT therapy, therapists may give the patient some homework to test and challenge their pessimistic thoughts.

Cognitive Approach - Key takeaways

  • Cognitive psychology is concerned with all mental processes and functions, i.e. everything that happens inside the brain.

  • There are four main approaches to cognitive psychology: experimental cognitive psychology, computational cognitive science, cognitive neuropsychology, and cognitive neuroscience.

  • Depression is explained by the cognitive approaches proposed by Ellis (A-B-C three-stage model) and Beck (cognitive triad).

  • Ellis proposed the A-B-C three-stage model, which explains how depression can result from irrational thinking.

  • Beck's theory proposed a cognitive explanation of depression consisting of cognitive bias, negative self-schemas, and a negative triad.

  • Treatment of depression according to the cognitive approach includes cognitive behavioural therapy and medication.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cognitive Approach to Depression

The cognitive approach to depression suggests that dysfunctional cognitive processes such as mental processes contribute to the onset of depression. Albert Ellis' cognitive approach to depression: the A-B-C three-stage model and Beck's cognitive triad theory are two theories put forward by cognitive psychologists to explain the onset of depression. 

The cognitive approach in psychology looks at how our thinking affects our behaviour and how irrational thinking can cause mental illness. 

The cognitive approach to depression is one psychological approach that attempts to explain mental illness. However, there are many others, such as biological, behavioural, humanistic, and psychodynamic. 

The cognitive approach treats depression by a therapist helping the client challenge irrational thoughts and beliefs. 

The most commonly used and effective cognitive therapy used for the treatment of depression is cognitive behavioural therapy. 

Final Cognitive Approach to Depression Quiz

Question

What are the two different ways used by cognitive behavioural therapy to treat depression?

Show answer

Answer

Cognitive behavioural therapy consists of two components: changing the pattern of thinking and changing the behaviour by doing proper homework. Cognitive behavioural therapy is used with the same motive but in two different ways:

  • The therapist will use reasoning to question the patient's logic behind his irrational thinking (using the Ellis model).
  • The therapist will help the patient identify the negative unrealistic thoughts and then discuss them with the logic that argues for and against that thought process (using Beck's Triad).

Show question

Question

Briefly explain the Rational Emotive behaviour therapy by Ellis.

Show answer

Answer

The main motive of REBT therapy is to challenge irrational thoughts and beliefs by continuing the ABC model with D dispute (argument) and E (effect). The therapist confronts the patient by questioning the logic behind their irrational beliefs and replacing them with (E) effective beliefs.

Show question

Question

Can drug therapy alone treat depression?

Show answer

Answer

No, drug therapy will only yield results if used along with cognitive therapy.

Show question

Question

Evaluate Beck’s (1967) cognitive triad.

Show answer

Answer

  • Lewinsohn et al. conducted a study of adults with no history of depression in which they measured their self-esteem and depression-related cognitions for one year. He found that negative thinking was an existing risk factor in depression.
  • The cognitive approach does not consider genetic factors in the cognitive explanation of depression.
  • The causal relationship between pessimistic thinking and depression has not yet been proven.

Show question

Question

Explain the cognitive bias stage of Beck (1967) cognitive triad?  

Show answer

Answer

The process outlines that depressed people misinterpret and disfigure information. Cognitive bias suggests that depressed people are more likely to interpret everything negatively without paying attention to positive reasons.

Show question

Question

What are the four approaches to cognitive psychology?

Show answer

Answer

There are four main approaches to cognitive psychology: experimental cognitive psychology, computational cognitive science, cognitive neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience.

Show question

Question

What is an example of an SSRI drug?

Show answer

Answer

Xanax is an SSRI drug.

Show question

Question

In  REBT therapy, the therapists may set out some homework tasks for the patient to test and challenge their______.

Show answer

Answer

Pessimistic thoughts

Show question

Question

Low levels of ________are related to depression.

Show answer

Answer

Serotonin

Show question

Question

According to Beck, depressed people tend to have __________ about themselves which can result from negative experiences.

Show answer

Answer

Negative self-schemas

Show question

Question

What are the three components of Beck’s cognitive triad?

Show answer

Answer

  1. Cognitive bias.

  2. Negative self-schemas.

  3. Negative triad.

Show question

Question

Who proposed Rational emotive behavioural therapy?

Show answer

Answer

Ellis

Show question

Question

What is the importance of cognitive psychology?

Show answer

Answer

Cognitive psychology, within its scope, aids us to form a better understanding of ourselves and others. It gives better insight to psychologists for developing new ways to help people improve and debug their memory issues.

Show question

Question

What is cognitive psychology?

Show answer

Answer

Cognitive psychology implies the study of all mental processes and functions – everything that happens inside the brain, including decision making, memory processes, learning, perception, thought processes, and attention.

Show question

Question

What are the advantages of the cognitive approach?

Show answer

Answer

There are many advantages of the cognitive approach in psychology some are as follows:

  • Understanding and fixing your mood problems.
  • Developing better ways of learning.
  • Changing unwanted behaviours and actions.
  • Understanding past traumas to improve your present and future.
  • Being able to make thoughtful decisions about life.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Cognitive Approach to Depression quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.