Managing Depression

What is the Managing Depression Course?

The Managing Depression Therapeutic Course consists of eight two-hour group sessions and two brief individual reviews. The course provides information and teaches skills to help understand how depressed mood is maintained and how this can be changed. Brief psycho-educational information regarding anxiety and how this can be managed is also included in the course.

Each course usually takes a maximum of 15 participants.

The key skills taught within the course are based mainly on the principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy. This includes behavioural activation to increase engagement in positive activity, and cognitive restructuring to reduce negative and unhelpful thought processes. The course also includes some strategies based on approaches other than pure CBT. These include progressive muscle relaxation to address physical symptoms of depression/anxiety, mindfulness practice to increase awareness of habitual and automatic thoughts/behaviours, and third wave approaches to foster acceptance and compassion.

Other skills covered in the course include grounding skills, problem solving, motivational exercises and assertiveness.

Each session includes a mixture of information giving, group discussion, small group exercises and skills practice. The course is designed to be educational and skills focussed, and is not ‘group therapy’ or a forum for addressing individual personal problems (although these will of course be the focus of skills practice). Participants will be expected to complete homework between every session in order to integrate skills taught into their own lives. Homework will be reviewed as part of every session.

The overall aim of the course is to enable participants to develop a clear understanding of their problems in cognitive-behavioural terms, and learn positive strategies to overcome them. 

The course will be run remotely so access to a device capable of making video calls (a mobile phone, laptop, tablet, desktop computer with camera) and an internet connection will be required. Resources will be available online and you will be asked to complete a weekly set of questionnaires to help you monitor progress, so access to the internet and a work email address will also be required.

Suitable candidates for the course will be identified at either assessment, during a waiting list review, or at the start of treatment.

Course Overview

Week 1: ‘What, Where, When, Who, Why?’

  • Agree on group rules so that everyone feels safe to attend. 
  • The vicious cycle of depression.
  • Breaking down and understand our own symptoms of depression.
  • To consider what really matters to us as individuals, what are the values we want to live our life by. 
  • Setting personal goals based on our values.            

Week 2: ‘Mind, Body, and Beating the Blues’

  • Focus on the relationship between our behaviours and our emotions.
  • Keeping an activity diary.
  • The impact of sleep and lifestyle factors on mood. 
  • The vicious cycle of anxiety. 
  • Anxiety management strategies such as breathing and relaxation techniques. 

Week 3: ‘Building Momentum’

  • Review activity diaries from the previous week. 
  • Different types of activities.
  • Planning helpful activities based on what really matters to us. 
  • How to maintain motivation. 
  • The advantages and disadvantages of change exercise. 
  • Problem solving.

WeeK 4: ‘It’s the Thought that Counts’

  • Review of activity diary and continued activity planning. 
  • Focus on the relationship between our thoughts and our emotions.
  • Unhelpful thinking styles. 
  • Keeping a thought diary. 
  • Mindfulness skills introduction and practice. 

Week 5: Individual review with one of the course facilitators.  

Week 6: ‘Thinking About Thinking’

  • Mindfulness skills practice.
  • Recap of the unhelpful thinking styles. 
  • Additional tips on identifying difficult thoughts. 
  • Review of thought diaries. 
  • Learning skills to manage unhelpful thoughts.

Week 7: 'Flexing the Rules’

  • Managing recurrent thoughts;
  • Identify our own ‘rules’ for life. 
  • Adjusting the rules, flexible thinking.
  • Grounding when struggling with difficult thoughts and emotions.

Week 8: ‘Dropping the Struggle’

  • Mindfulness skills practice. 
  • Making space for the things we can’t change (acceptance). 
  • Building self-compassions and skills practice.
  • Assertiveness skills. 

Week 9: ‘The Journey Continues’

  • Review of the course and overview of the mood management techniques covered. 
  • Review of goals.
  • Managing relapses and developing a personal staying well plan.
  • How to continue with ‘self-therapy’ sessions. 

Week 10: Individual review with one of the course facilitators.