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Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice for depression in adults, teens and children. It can be used as an alternative to or in conjunction with medication.  Treatment focuses on teaching skills for better management of mood by changing behaviors, balancing thinking, and decreasing physiological arousal. To change behaviors, individuals are taught behavioral activation (BA): They learn to monitor mood and activities, to increase antidepressant behaviors, and to generate solutions for ongoing stressors that maintain depression. To balance thinking, individuals are taught to catch negative thoughts, to recognize “thinking traps” and to increase mental flexibility in order to divert negative rumination. To decrease physiological arousal, individuals are taught mindfulness, which is a way to stay in the present moment and to achieve a more relaxed state. As individuals will incorporate skills over time, mood tends to improve. With skills in place, individuals are more likely to ward off future episodes of depression or to put themselves on the path of recovery when feeling depressed.

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