They speculated that Feeling Good bibliotherapy might help prevent serious episodes of depression among individuals with a tendency toward negative thinking. Finally, the researchers addressed another important concern: would the antidepressant effects of Feeling Good last? The same problem holds for the treatment of depression. Following successful treatment with drugs or psychotherapy, many patients feel tremendously improved—only to relapse back into depression after a period of time.
These relapses can be devastating because patients feel so demoralized. The researchers contacted the patients three years after reading Feeling Good and administered the depression tests once again. They also asked the patients several questions about how they had been doing since the completion of the study. The researchers learned that the patients did not relapse but maintained their gains during this three-year period. In fact, the scores on the two depression tests at the three-year evaluation were actually slightly better than the scores at the completion of the bibliotherapy treatment.
More than half of the patients said that their moods continued to improve following the completion of the initial study. The diagnostic findings at the three-year evaluation confirmed this—72 percent of the patients still did not meet the criteria for a major depressive episode, and 70 percent did not seek or receive any further treatment with medications or psychotherapy during the follow-up period.
Although they experienced the normal ups and downs we all feel from time to time, approximately half indicated that when they were upset, they opened up Feeling Good and reread the most helpful sections.
The researchers speculated that these self-administered booster sessions may have been important in maintaining a positive outlook following recovery. Forty percent of the patients said that the best part of the book was that it helped them change their negative thinking patterns, such as learning to be less perfectionistic and to give up all-or-nothing thinking. Of course, this study had limitations, like all studies. For one thing, not every patient was cured by reading Feeling Good.
No treatment is a panacea. While it is encouraging that many patients seem to respond to reading Feeling Good , it is also clear that some patients with more severe or chronic depressions will need the help of a therapist and possibly an antidepressant medication as well. This is nothing to be ashamed of.
Different individuals respond better to different approaches. It is good that we now have three types of effective treatment for depression: antidepressant medications, individual and group psychotherapy, and bibliotherapy. Remember that you can use the cognitive bibliotherapy between therapy sessions to speed your recovery even if you are in treatment. In fact, when I first wrote Feeling Good , this is how I imagined the book would be used. I intended it to be a tool my patients could use between therapy sessions to speed up the treatment and never dreamed that it might someday be used alone as a treatment for depression.
It appears that more and more therapists are beginning to assign bibliotherapy to their patients as psychotherapy homework between therapy sessions. In , the results of a nationwide survey about the use of bibliotherapy by mental health professionals were published in the Authoritative Guide to Self-Help Books published by Guilford Press, New York. John W. Santrock and Ann M. Campbell, a research associate at the university, conducted this study.
These three researchers surveyed five hundred American mental health professionals from all fifty states and asked whether they prescribed books for patients to read between sessions to speed recovery. Seventy percent of the therapists polled indicated that they had recommended at least three self-help books to their patients during the previous year, and 86 percent reported that these books provided a positive benefit to their patients.
The therapists were also asked which self-help books, from a list of one thousand, they most frequently recommended for their patients.
Feeling Good was the number-one-rated book for depressed patients, and my Feeling Good Handbook published as a Plume paperback in was rated number two. I was not aware this survey was being conducted, and was thrilled to learn about the results of it.
One of my goals when I wrote Feeling Good was to provide reading for my own patients to speed their learning and recovery between therapy sessions, but I never dreamed this idea would catch on in such a big way! Should you expect to improve or recover after reading Feeling Good? That would be unreasonable. The research clearly indicates that while many people who read Feeling Good improved, others needed the additional help of a mental health professional.
I have received many letters probably more than ten thousand from people who read Feeling Good. Many of them kindly described in glowing terms how Feeling Good had helped them, often after years and years of unsuccessful treatment with medications and even electroconvulsive therapy. Others indicated that they found the ideas in Feeling Good appealing but needed a referral to a good local therapist to make these ideas work for them.
This is understandable—we are all different, and it would be unrealistic to think that any one book or form of therapy would be the answer for everyone. Depression is one of the worst forms of suffering, because of the immense feelings of shame, worthlessness, hopelessness, and demoralization.
Depression can seem worse than terminal cancer, because most cancer patients feel loved and they have hope and self-esteem. Many depressed patients have told me, in fact, that they yearned for death and prayed every night that they would get cancer, so they could die in dignity without having to commit suicide. But no matter how terrible your depression and anxiety may feel, the prognosis for recovery is excellent. You may be convinced that your own case is so bad, so over-whelming and hopeless, that you are the one person who will never get well, no matter what.
But sooner or later, the clouds have a way of blowing away and the sky suddenly clears and the sun begins to shine again. When this happens, the feelings of relief and joy can be overwhelming. And if you are now struggling with depression and low self-esteem, I believe this transformation can happen for you as well, no matter how discouraged or depressed you may feel.
I want to wish you the very best as you read it, and hope you find these ideas and methods helpful! Antonuccio, D. Psychotherapy versus medication for depression: Challenging the conventional wisdom with data. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice , 26 6 , — Baxter, L. Caudate glucose metabolic rate changes with both drug and behavioral therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Archives of General Psychiatry , 49, — Scogin, F. The comparative efficacy of cognitive and behavioral bibliotherapy for mildly and moderately depressed older adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology , 57, — Bibliotherapy for depressed older adults: A self-help alternative. The Gerontologist , 27, — A two-year follow-up of the effects of bibliotherapy for depressed older adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology , 58, — Jamison, C.
Outcome of cognitive bibliotherapy with depressed adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology , 63, — Smith, N. Three-year follow-up of bibliotherapy for depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology , 65 2 , — My name is Huyen 20 years old girl living in Vietnam. Thank you so much, your book is like magical happen to my life.
I was feel healed, cured, filled after I read your book. I have your book with me. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment. David Burns presents us with some practical strategies for dealing with these cognitive distortions. The first step is to start being mindful enough to catch those automatic negative thoughts and write them down. The second step is to learn precisely how you are twisting things and blowing them out of proportion.
The third step is to substitute a more objective thought that counters the one which made you look down on yourself. If you hear a thought telling you that you are not good at doing anything, catch that negative thought and write it down. Now write a logical more realistic counter thought to it. Try to find out all the logical reasons that convey clearly that you are good at something, no matter what the thought says. You can read what you wrote every morning before you go about your day and with time, the subconscious will re-wire itself.