An Integrative Theory of Depression by Aaron Beck

An Integrative Theory of Depression by Aaron Beck

August 9, 2016DepressionMusingTherapy1519Views

From the APS Observer.  Aaron Beck, perhaps best known as one of the fathers of the cognitive treatment of depression, along with Keith Bredemeier, have proposed a “unified model” of depression.  The authors theorize that

[t]he overarching function of this so-called “depression program,”…is to promote the conservation of energy in the face of the perceived loss of resources.

They further note that their model

…suggests that any intervention that targets key predisposing, precipitating, or resilience factors can reduce risk or alleviate symptoms

On the one hand, it is heartening to hear the authors speak of “any intervention,” and not fall in the trap of claiming that only Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be used to treat depression.  This is perhaps related to clinical research showing that no one theoretical orientation has been shown to be more effective.  Of course, the Cognitive-Behavioral perspective still dominates the proposed model with emphasis on “depressogenic beliefs,” “negative cognitive appraisals,” and “negative automatic thoughts.”  It is less clear what the role of developmental history and culture, among other factors, may have in this model.

On the other hand, it does raise the question of how much do we really know about depression and if we are ready to speak about a unified model.  Is it even helpful clinically to have a unified model?  For example, there are questions being asked in the field regarding whether or not we need to research about different types of depression.  Also, the model is silent on the connection of depression and mania.

How do you conceptualize depression? Are there aspect of depression that you think Aaron Beck may have missed of not as emphasized?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in our comments section.

Click the link below to see the original article including a graphic of the proposed model and the journal article reference.

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