People looking for therapy because of mental health problems or persistent fears and worries often have to wait for weeks or even months. The long wait often makes their problems worse and can lead to severe depression. To prevent that, Australian scientists have developed the ‘moodgym’ programme, which can relieve acute symptoms and prevent severe mental illness until the patient can get an appointment with a psychotherapist. Studies have proven the programme’s effectiveness, and the AOK has made it possible to use moodgym in Germany.
moodgym is based on cognitive behavioural therapy, which has been thoroughly researched and shown to be effective in relieving symptoms of depression. One of the things it helps patients to do is to reframe negative perceptions and thoughts so that they can deal with them better in future. In a way that’s easy to understand, moodgym shows us how patterns of thought and symptoms of depression are related, and how we can recognise unhelpful ways of thinking and replace them with positive ones.
An example from the AOK:
Imagine seeing an acquaintance while walking down the street. You greet him, but he doesn’t acknowledge you. Now you think, ‘He ignored me. He must not like me anymore.’ You feel depressed, sad and rejected. Your way of thinking causes you to avoid your acquaintance in future. In the same situation, somebody else might think quite differently: ‘He didn’t notice me. Maybe he’s depressed about something. I’ll give him a call and see how he’s doing.’ Negative feelings don’t come up at all when you think this way – and you’ll stay in touch with your acquaintance. As you can see, two people in an identical situation can have completely opposite thoughts, feelings and behaviour. That also means you can influence the feelings with which you react to a certain situation.
Of course it takes training to make lasting changes to your ways of thinking. This is exactly where the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy come into play. The self-help programme works with five components that you can work through at your own pace and intensity, with practical support from virtual assistants who accompany you through the programme. In addition, moodgym also teaches relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation.
|Feelings||The first step is about how your feelings influence your thinking. How do you perceive situations? How do you feel?|
|Thoughts||The second part of the online training involves the following questions: Why do you think in a certain way? What do you think of yourself? What would you rather think? The focus here is on your hopes and what you want.|
|Change||Step three in the programme involves letting you be the way you are. Change patterns of thinking that hold you back. Then you can get more enjoyment out of pleasant activities again.|
|Get rid of stress||The fourth part helps you change how you deal with stress. Learn to recognise where stress comes from, and which relaxation techniques you can use to calm down.|
|Relationships||In the fifth step, find out how you can better deal with the challenges in your family and professional relationships.|
The programme is free to use. Simply register at www.moodgym.de (you can use a pseudonym if you prefer) and get started.