Cognitive Causal Model of Depression

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The cognitive causal model of depression is the model with the most empirical evidence in treating depression. According to this model, it is one's cognitions - thoughts and beliefs- that shape one's behaviors and emotions. The most prominent proponent of the cognitive model of depression is Aaron Beck. He proposed that depressive symptoms result when people's attributions for external events are based on maladaptive beliefs and attitudes (Persons, Davison, Tompkins). The cognitive model of depression has provided ample scientific evidence to base its assumptions that maladaptive cognitions precede and cause disorders. Beck (1967) has found evidence that "deviation from logical and realistic thinking was found at every level of depression from mild neurotic to severe psychotic" (p. 240). Some typical themes are found in the ideation of depressed patients that differ significantly from that of non-depressed individuals. Themes of low self-evaluation, ideas of deprivation, exaggeration of problems and difficulties, self-criticism, self-commands, and wishes to escape or die are commonly found among a depressed population. The cognitive model of depression assumes three specific concepts a) the cognitive triad -negative view of self, the world, and the future, b) schemas -pattern of maladaptive thoughts and beliefs, and c) cognitive errors -faulty thinking accompanied by negative and unrealistic representations of reality (Beck, 1967; Beck et al., 1979). The role of cognitive processing in emotion and behavior is a paramount factor in determining how an individual perceives, interprets, and assigns meaning to an event. According to the cognitive model, psychological distress is influenced by a number of factors, including one's biological and genetic makeup, learning history and social influences. Individual predispositions are also dependent on his/her personality because such is shaped by schemas, cognitive structure and developmentally acquired assumptions.
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