International Day of Happiness: Behavioral activation therapy found to prevent depression

International Day of Happiness: Behavioral activation therapy found to prevent depression

Happiness is a goal that has been actively pursued by humans across ages. Whether psychology or spirituality, various fields of human endeavor have tried to define and understand it better. What makes humans happy? How can it be achieved? Are oft asked questions or pondered on. The importance of this goal is reflected in the fact that the United Nations (UN) recognizes happiness as a fundamental human goal and says that all progress should be to achieve this goal. Keeping this in mind, the UN has established March 20 as the annual International Day of Happiness and all 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority.

Recently, the University of Leeds, the University of New York and the Durham University came together to conduct a study on the effect of behavioral activation therapy (BAT) in older people. Performed on 705 individuals aged over 65 with mild symptoms of depression and at risk of becoming depressed clinically, the study found that BAT could indeed prevent depression in older people.

Behavioral activation therapy uses a psychological approach to help people bring happiness into their lives by re-engaging in social activities. People, undergoing BAT, are also encouraged to re-think enjoyment to keep mentally and physically active when their bodies refuse to feel happy or accept what used to be a perfect source of enjoyment earlier. Developing this ability to stay happy prevents them from cutting off and withdrawing from the society, which is common in people suffering from depression.

During the course of the study, half of the 705 participants were sent to a Collaborative Care group where BAT was used. The therapy included eight weeks of half-hour sessions conducted by case managers with either psychology or mental health nursing background. The initial sessions were conducted face-to-face, and thereafter, over the phone.

The other half of the 705 participants formed a control group who continued visiting their general physician (GP) as usual. After eight weeks, the Collaborative Care group had a clinical depression rate of 17.2 percent compared to the control group’s 23.5 percent.

This study becomes even more important in the face of the International Day of Happiness.

What is behavioral activation therapy?

Considered to be at par with medication and slightly better than cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating depression, BAT shifts the focus from feelings and cognitions to the patient’s environment and behavior. During the therapy sessions, the guide or the case manager helps the individual understand the environmental causes or sources of their depression, and focuses on targeting those particular behaviors which may contribute to depression or even worsen it.

While the goal seems pretty straightforward, attaining it is takes time as BAT doesn’t provide immediate relief like avoidant behaviors do. It is important that the patients understand this aspect of the treatment as without that the motivation to follow through and stick to the therapy would be limited.

It is also the clinician’s job to make the patients understand how the avoidant behavior is fueling their depression and help them replace those behaviors with positive ones. Adopting such behaviors and making them a part of their lives will help the patients move towards a happy and depression free future.

Help is at hand

Sovereign Health understands that depression can wreck lives. It is committed to providing treatment and counseling for anyone with depression and other forms of mental illness. Our team of dedicated and compassionate experts will tailor a treatment plan to suit your specific needs to ensure a better and illness free life for you.

If you or your loved one is struggling with any form of depression or mental illness, you can contact Sovereign Health for information on depression treatment centers in Los Angeles. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 for expert advice on finding the best depression treatment programs in Los Angeles. You can also chat online with our experts.

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