Distraction techniques

In severe depression, access to more positive perspectives may be blocked by depressed mood, making modifying negative automatic thoughts difficult or impossible. At the same time, patients may spend time ruminating on their difficulties, intensifying depressed mood. Learning to focus attention on the outside world (e.g. a detailed description of what the patient can see) or other mental content (e.g. remembering in detail a favourite walk), temporarily reduces the frequency of negative thoughts and improves mood. Clearly this palliative measure will not resolve the patient's problems. However, the improvement in mood it produces may facilitate more constructive thinking, as well as reinforcing the model.

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