Behavior Activation

Description of the Strategy

A number of theoretical perspectives have been outlined with regard to factors most critical in understanding the etiology and maintenance of clinical depression; biological theorists implicate decreased levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine; cognitive psychologists highlight dysfunctional thoughts and maladaptive core schemas; while interpersonal psychotherapists associate clinical depression with impaired interpersonal functioning. From the behavioral perspective provided here, depression results from decreased response-contingent reinforcement for nondepressive (healthy) behavior, a process that results from unavailability of reinforcement in the environment, inability to access reinforcement (e.g., skill deficits), and/or an increased frequency of punishment. Depressive behaviors such as passivity or lethargy also may be maintained through positive (e.g., expressed sympathy) and/or negative reinforcement (e.g., avoidance of responsibilities). In other words, ...

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