Behavioral Activation is a technique sometimes used to help treat depression. Just as feelings can influence our behaviors, our behaviors can sometimes influence the way we feel. Depression is a vicious cycle, when feeling depressed many tend to isolate themselves and withdraw from things that once gave them pleasure. Being isolated and withdrawn often encourages the depression to fester and grow. Behavioral Activation helps one to identify activities in the day that increase or decrease depression and also helps to schedule more activities that will help decrease depression.

How to Use Behavioral Activation to Treat Depression

Before you can start assessing your current life and scheduling your activities, it is helpful to identify your values and goals. What kind of person do you want to be? When scheduling activities, it is important that the activities actually help you progress to what you want to become.

Assessing Your Life Situation

Assessing your current life situation can be helpful in identifying which activities in your life encourage the depression or combat it. Eventually you would want to replace the negative activities that increase the depression with healthy activities that will help you achieve your goal. One way to assess your current activities would be to write down your entire day from the moment you wake up till you go to sleep, hour by hour. Next to each hour of the day, track the way you feel on a scale of 1-10, 1 being most depressed, 10 being happy and your best self.

Scheduling Activities

Once your goals and values are set, you know what you want to become, and you are aware of the behaviors that bring your down, try to schedule in activities that will help you achieve your goals and that bring you satisfaction. It might be helpful to have a range of activities that are easy to accomplish and others that might take more effort. For example, if you have a goal to be more creative, looking out the window and identifying five inspiring things might be easier to do than attending a ceramics class. It is important when scheduling your activities that the activities are feasible and realistic. Easing into the activities, and starting small could also help when first trying Behavioral Activation. Sometimes when the activities are too difficult or not feasible, it can be discouraging and have a reverse effect.

Be Accountable

Although doing Behavioral Activation is possible to do on your own, it is often more effective when held accountable. One of the ways depression manifests itself is not completing tasks and lack of motivation. Thus, it could be very helpful to have someone who can help motivate and provide encouragement. Seeking a mental health professional who is experienced with Behavioral Activation can also help your experience to be more effective. There are a variety of scheduling worksheets and information on how to incorporate Behavioral Activation into your life.