Article 1

In behavioural activation we are interested in the function of the things you do( i.e. your behaviours) . By function we mean the role that your behaviours play in keeping your depression going even if you are not fully aware of them and their impact on your mood.

One of the reason why depression persists is that you are experiencing fewer situations from which you might get some pleasure or good feelings. We refer to these as positively reinforcing situations: for eample , spending some time with a friend, having a long soak in the bath , enjoying a meal , walking in the park, making something- any activity that makes you feel positive about yourself . In general because you feel positive when doing this kind of activity, you tend to repeat it.

When you feel troubled and down, a nature response is to avoid things as we have already discussed. So for example, if you believe that you will feel uncomfortable talking to someone about a difficult topic , you might avoid that person or at least avoid the topic. You will probably then feel relieved . This is not necessarily a problem, unless your feelings of relief when avoiding this are so strong that you keep on avoiding it. This is called negative reinforcement , which refers to the relief we get from avoiding situation where we expect to feel bad. What happens is that the more you feel relief because you avoid , the more you continue to avoid.

Article 2

You might wonder why tis is a problem .Surely, if you avoid unpeasant situations you should feel less distressed m not more depressed ? This can certainly be true in the short term> However m what we tend to find is that you can get into a habit of avoidance. It is this habit that can be the problem.

For example, maybe you feel as if you don’t want to talk to a neighbour because you have a dispute with them. So, you begin to avoid them. This makes feel better and you get a sense of relief . In order to avoid the neighbour you reduce the number of times you go out of the house , in case you bump into them. Then you stop sitting in the garden as often as you used to. Both these avoidances result in you having fewer opportunities for positive experiences- meeting other people you like, having conversations with shopkeepers , seeing your flowers grow , tending to your plants.

As you can see, your avoidance- part of a cycle of negative reinforcement -has reduced your opportunity for positive experiences . Positive experiences have a good effect on your mood. Your avoidance habit is likely to make you more depressed in the long term, even if you started out avoiding things to make yourself feel better in the short term.

Going back to the example above, one further problem is that avoiding your neigbour does not make the dispute with the neighbour go away . It hangs over you like a black cloud. You end up thinking about it more and more , going over it in your mind. It preoccupies your waking hours and intrudes upon your sleep . Your avoidance behaviour , rather than solving the problem, actually makes it far worse.

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