Skip to content
Home » Posts » Why Behavioral Activation Helps Improve Symptoms of Depression

Why Behavioral Activation Helps Improve Symptoms of Depression

Depression Treatment in California, LA by Beverly MHS Psychiatrists and therapists

Depression is a serious mental health condition that can impact all aspects of an individual’s life. Read how depression treatment can help.

While antidepressant medication can be effective for some people, it is best when combined with other treatment options proven to help with, as such as individual therapy. Our mental health practice takes a comprehensive approach to depression treatment using behavioral activation as a key component in treating depression. Behavioral activation is an approach to depression treatment that focuses on helping individuals increase their participation in meaningful and enjoyable activities. It has been shown to be an effective way to improve symptoms of depression.

Doing Just About Anything is More Difficult With Depression

One of the most frustrating things about depression is that it seems to sap your ability to do just about anything. Even getting out of bed in the morning can feel like Herculean task. Even once you’re up, it can be hard to find the motivation to do anything else.

In fact, when depressed, it is common for people to withdraw from activities and social interactions that they once enjoyed. This can lead to a vicious cycle as the less an individual does, the more isolated and depressed they often feel.

Behavioral activation helps break this cycle. How? By helping individuals identify and start to re-engage in activities that are enjoyable and meaningful to them. As they start to do these activities, they often see their mood improve. This then leads to increased motivation to do more things. However, if you’ve experienced depression, you may be thinking that simply getting out and participating in “fun” activities may sound like a tall order at first.

Behavioral Activation Breaks Big Goals Into Smaller Steps

When our psychiatrists and therapists meet with individuals who are struggling with depression, we help to develop a list of activities that they enjoy and would like to do more of or a list of longer term goals.

Then, we work with the individual to develop a plan to slowly increase their participation in these activities. This may involve starting with small goals such as taking a walk around the block or attending a weekly yoga class. As the individual begins to accomplish these small goals, they often find that their motivation and mood begin to improve which helps them accomplish even more.

Again, it’s important we emphasize that an important behavioral activation includes helping you break down larger goals into manageable tasks. So, rather than thinking about going back to school or starting a new business, you focus on more immediate, and often smaller goals that can feel more manageable in the moment like meeting with a counselor or taking a class. And as you start accomplishing these smaller goals, you begin to build momentum and confidence. Then, you and your treatment team will begin to work on even bigger goals.

But Why Does Behavioral Activation Work as a Depression Treatment?

There are a number of reasons why behavioral activation can be an effective treatment for depression. When we’re depressed, we fixate on negative thoughts and feelings. This can lead us to believe that we’re not capable of doing anything or that nothing will make us feel better.

Behavioral activation helps refocus our attention away from these negative thoughts and towards positive activities. This reduce the rumination, or obsessive thinking, often associated with depression. If we begin to engage in more enjoyable activities, it naturally leads to an increase in positive interactions with others. That can help reduce feelings of isolation.

Behavioral Activation Sounds Challenging

Right now, it’s hard to imagine anything feeling fun. You may struggling to see how you’re going to get up and actually do these things. After all, you’ve been trying to find the motivation to more fully engage in school or work or to spend more time with your friends for weeks or months already. However, it’s important to remember that behavioral activation is a process that takes place over time. And, you’ll have the support of your treatment team. Our therapists and psychiatrists understand how depression can make it hard to get started. But, they also know that behavioral activation is an effective treatment. They support you, teach tips to help you start and provide encouragement every step of the way. Then, as you see even small improvements in your mood, it will become easier and more enjoyable to do these things.

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, we encourage you to reach out for help. The first step is often the hardest but it’s also the most important. We offer a variety of mental health services, tailored to meet your unique needs. Our team of mental health professionals always follows a team approach to make sure you have everything you need.

We use Behavioral Activation Because it Works

Our psychiatrists and therapists use behavioral activation as part of our online depression treatment. Because it is a proven way to help people suffering from depression improve their symptoms. We are often combining this with other methods of depression treatment, such as the use of antidepressants or other evidence based interventions including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Because behavioral activation often plays an important role in the early days of finding relief from depression.

Begin Depression Treatment in California

I know it this has been a lot of content. But if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, we encourage you to reach out for help. Our team of mental health professionals would be happy to talk with you about our comprehensive, online depression treatment program.

Reach out today and begin taking the first steps towards feeling some relief from the weight of your depression.