Behavioral Theories

Behavioral theories of depression focus on the links between behaviors and mood. These dysfunctional connections lead to an excess of behaviors and activities that produce depressed mood and a deficit in behaviors and activities that produce positive mood. This disconnect between behavior and positive mood can occur because of insufficient engagement in pleasurable activities (e.g., living in an impoverished environment) and/or deficiencies in interpersonal skills (e.g., excessive shyness). Depressed individuals thus find themselves engaging in fewer activities and relationships that promote positive mood. This withdrawal and avoidance of pleasurable activities results in increased depressed mood, which then contributes to a cycle of continued lack of engagement and skill deficits.

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