Behavioral Activation: A Treatment for Depression

Behavioral Activation: A Treatment for Depression

Last update: 28 July, 2022

All of a sudden, sadness begins to infiltrate your life. Everything is painful and you don’t have the will to do anything. So instead, you hide away in your bed and watch life go by, because you simply can’t move anymore.

Why should behavioral activation be utilized?

Behavioral activation is a tool that focuses on the depressed person’s behavior. Analysis shows that they do very few activities, and as the depression advances, this number decreases even more.

That is, when people are depressed, they refuse to start new projects and even abandon current ones. Behavioral activation works on these avoidant behaviors by encouraging the person to progressively increase the amount of activities they do.

“I work grief and sadness out of my body when I dance, and I bring in joy and rhythm.”

But it’s important to remember that the idea isn’t to do things just to do them. The person should do more activities that they’re interested in, such as reading, playing sports, renewing friendships, dancing, traveling, or going to their favorite cafe. This should all be gradual. It’s all about rebuilding their life even though they’re going through a hard time so that they can start to feel better again.

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The benefits of behavioral activation

The benefits of behavioral activation as a treatment for depression have been studied thoroughly. The most important one is that it can be used as an alternative or complementary treatment to medication, meaning it enhances the positive impact of treatment, cuts down on recovery time, and reduces side effects.

More specifically, behavioral activation has shown to be at least as effective as antidepressants. But not only that, it has an advantage over medication: it doesn’t have the side effects that medications do.

Behavioral activation is an effective treatment for depression, but this doesn’t mean that it should be isolated from the therapeutic process. It’s more like a tool that can be used to improve your health and well-being, but that should always be designed, outlined, and directed by a professional.

Images courtesy of Frank Marino, Volkan Olmez and Austin Schmid

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.