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University of Reading

Understanding Anxiety, Depression and CBT

University of Reading via FutureLearn


Anxiety and depression are terms discussed widely, in different media and amongst family and friends. But what do those labels actually mean?

On this five-week course from the University of Reading, you will explore what it means to have anxiety or depression and how they are identified. The course will also demonstrate the leading evidence-based treatment–Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

It’s important to emphasise that this course is not intended to be a self-help treatment for anyone experiencing anxiety or depression, nor can it be used to formally diagnose yourself or anyone else.

This beginner’s course is aimed at anyone with an interest in mental illness generally, and anxiety and depression in particular. This may include:

• those who are currently experiencing or have previously experienced emotional difficulties,

• family and friends of those who are experiencing emotional difficulties,

• primary (or other) healthcare professionals who have a frontline role in detecting mental health difficulties and offering appropriate support and guidance to those affected.


  • Making sense of the world around us
    • Welcome to Week 1
    • Processing and making sense of the world
    • Influences on perception: Selective attention and perceptual expectancy
    • The influence of mood on perception
    • How does perception relate to CBT?
    • Review and reflect
  • Understanding depression and the CBT approach
    • Welcome to Week 2
    • What does depression look and feel like?
    • Depression in the real world
    • A CBT model of depression
    • Review and reflect
  • Understanding anxiety and the CBT approach
    • Welcome to Week 3
    • Thinking about 'normal' anxiety
    • What do anxiety disorders look and feel like?
    • Anxiety in the real world
    • A CBT model of anxiety
    • Review and reflect
  • Tackling the ‘B’ in CBT: Addressing unhelpful behaviours in anxiety and depression
    • Welcome to Week 4
    • Behaviour change in depression
    • Behavioural activation
    • Behaviour change in anxiety
    • Graded exposure
    • Review and reflect
  • Tackling the ‘C’ in CBT: Addressing unhelpful thinking in anxiety and depression
    • Welcome to Week 5
    • How is thinking affected in anxiety and depression?
    • Cognitive restructuring
    • Behavioural experiments
    • Generalised Anxiety Disorder - GAD
    • Review and reflect

Taught by

Michelle Lee and Shirley Reynolds


4.2 rating, based on 4 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at FutureLearn based on 1085 ratings

Start your review of Understanding Anxiety, Depression and CBT

  • This class provides a comprehensive overview of important mental health problems that affect many people around the world. I appreciated the detailed coverage of anxiety, depression, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). I would highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to learn more about these issues and how to cope with them, as well as those interested in learning about CBT. Overall, this class is an excellent resource for anyone looking to improve their understanding of mental health.

    Text edited with the support of ChatGPT.
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    Chiman Lee

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