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Review of what’s been covered

Article recapping Week 4 of Understanding low mood and depression in young people and suggesting further resources.
© University of Reading

In this Week, we’ve focused on the role of thinking, or cognition in depression. We use two kinds of thinking: deliberate and automatic. Both are useful but automatic thinking can lead us to make many everyday errors. In depression, automatic thinking also tends to be negatively biased – this means that when situations are unclear or ambiguous – they’re likely to be interpreted as negative, rather than neutral or positive.

We also described the role of thinking traps, and discussed the many shortcuts that are necessary when we make sense of the complicated world around us.

We used an example of Emma and her mother to show how negative thinking is hard to control and often not noticed. The example showed how Emma’s negative thinking impacted on her sleep. She also thought a lot about how she would be judged by others and this made it very hard for her to go to school.

Using Emma as an example, we explored different techniques for catching, checking and challenging automatic negative thoughts. These are methods used in CBT, which is an effective therapy for young people with depression. We also highlighted the importance of dealing directly with acute negative events or trauma that young people may face – therapy should not be used as an alternative to solving and tackling harmful environments that young people may live in.

Finally, we discussed the role of rumination in depression, and suggested some strategies that young people may find useful to deal with repetitive, negative thoughts that are otherwise hard to control.


See below for a list of relevant resources used in this Week. We’ll provide a comprehensive list of all resources and further reading which can be downloaded at the end of the course.


Am I Depressed And What Can I Do About It? by Reynolds, S. & Parkinson, M. (London: Robinson, 2015). A CBT self-help guide for teenagers experiencing low mood and depression.

Teenage Depression: A CBT Guide For Parents by Parkinson, M. & Reynolds, S. (London: Robinson, 2015). Help your child beat their low mood. An indispensable guide for parents of a depressed teenager.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman, D. (Penguin, 2012). The book summarizes research that Kahneman conducted over decades, often in collaboration with Amos Tversky. It covers all three phases of his career: his early days working on cognitive biases, his work on prospect theory, and his later work on happiness.


Orchard, F., Pass, L. and Reynolds, S. (2016) ‘It Was All My Fault’: negative interpretation bias in depressed adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 44 (5). pp. 991-998.

Orchard, F., Pass, L. and Reynolds, S. (2016) Associations between interpretation bias and depression in adolescents. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 40 (4). pp. 577-583.


The Compassionate Mind Foundation Compassionate Mind offers information and useful resources promoting wellbeing.


Guardian “Point of View” A short video illustrating an example of a thinking error.

© University of Reading
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Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People

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