The Vicious Cycle of Depression

Coping With Depression


depression cycleIn the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) model of depression, one of the reasons that breaking out of depression can be so difficult is that depression generates vicious cycles involving a number of aspects of our lives. Once we get stuck in these vicious cycles, they can be hard to break.

According to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), when we’re experiencing depression, we’ll tend to have automatic negative thoughts about ourselves, the world, the future, and other people. This pattern of negative thinking pulls us deeper into depression. And this brings about further negative thoughts; which lead us to feel even more depressed; bringing about more negative thoughts; and so on.

Other vicious cycles that arise from depression involve feelings, behaviours, memories and physical symptoms. These vicious cycles are depicted below:

vicious cycle of depression

These vicious cycles act together to create downward spirals that can carry you deeper and deeper into depression. One of the keys to overcoming depression is to become aware of when these cycles are happening, and engaging in ways to slow them down, and then reverse them, transforming them from vicious cycles that lead you deeper into depression, to positive cycles that lead you out of depression.
The earlier in the process you become aware that these cycles are starting, the more options you have to deal with them. Once the vicious cycles begin to get stronger, they are more difficult to break. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can help you recognize when these cycles are starting, learn what you can do to nip them in the bud, and how you can slow and reverse them once they have set in.
You’ll find more tips to help cope with and manage depression in the next post, and in my free Self-Help for Depression course.
Guelph Therapist Greg Dorter

I’m a Guelph therapist specializing in helping people overcome depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. For more information about how mindfulness and cognitive therapy/cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for depression can help you end your vicious cycles, or to set up an appointment for counselling or therapy, please call me at 226-500-4086 or email

One thought on “The Vicious Cycle of Depression

  1. says

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