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Behavioral activation is a treatment for depression that evolved out of behavioral approaches in the 1970s and 1980s and from a component analysis of cognitive therapy performed by Neil Jacobson and colleagues in the 1990s. Behavioral theory posits that people get depressed because their lives have become less rewarding due to a loss or an increase in stress. While it is normal to experience sadness with such events, depression can occur when people respond to negative events by withdrawing or disengaging from life in some way. This type of withdrawal (e.g., interacting with friends less or avoiding issues that should be confronted) can maintain and sometimes exacerbate depression. A downward spiral then occurs whereby one withdraws when life is punishing, the rewards of engaging in ...

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