Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Many people nowadays suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder and most of them decide to try and deal with this problem on their own as they fear that if they go look for help they might be perceived as weak and not capable of facing life on their own. Of course, this is not true. Asking for help and most importantly seeking a medical solution shows that you are brave and want to take control of your life, something you feel the anxiety disorder has stolen from you.
When you go visit a doctor or a specialist he or she will have to assess your symptoms to come to the conclusion that you are indeed an anxiety sufferer. The first common sign that doctors look out for is the feeling that the patient has that his/her problems related to anxiety have been going on for a very long period of time, so long the patient cannot even remember when it actually began. If the sufferer also shows other common symptoms, such as lack of sleep and rest, feeling moody, nervous at all times, having psychophysical reactions such as migraines and dizziness then the doctor will most likely diagnose him or her with an anxiety disorder.
The first step doctors recommend taking when beginning therapy, is for the patient to change lifestyle, where it fits. In fact, the effects of eating healthier, staying hydrated and exercising regularly can indeed improve how people deal with anxiety. However, when natural remedies are not enough, doctors intervene with what is known as cognitive behavioral therapy.
Cognitive behavioral techniques and stages
Cognitive behavioral therapy, commonly referred to as CBT, is a type of psychotherapy used to treat patients who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or depression. People who suffer from anxiety and depression tend to focus on negative thoughts and the main goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help the patient drift away from those negative thoughts by understanding what causes and triggers them and eventually substitute them with positive ones. However, depending of what type of anxiety disorder or depression one might suffer from, there are different stages of cognitive behavioral therapy that the doctors might recommend approaching.
Both doctor and patient choose a place that suggests comfort and safety to the sufferer, for example the patient’s own home or the doctor’s office. The first step of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is psycho-education. It is a doctor focused stage during which the care giver explains in details what an anxiety disorder or depression is, what causes and what might trigger it, the several remedies to help cure it and prevent it. This is a very important phase during which the patient is informed about everything he or she needs to know to properly understand the disorder. Moreover, it also helps the patient become familiar with certain medical terms, thus feeling confident and enlighten regarding the disorder.
The second stage of CBT techniques is self monitoring. As opposed to the previous one, this phase is led by the patient himself. In fact, the patient is asked to keep a journal of his daily routine and write down in details when he starts to feel angry or depressed. This way, the doctor, along with the patient, can read the passages again and try to understand what exactly causes and triggers the anxiety or depression. Moreover, the patient is also asked to try to postpone becoming irritated, nervous, depressed or anxious until he is able to see his doctor. He is walked through several steps where he is thought how to imagine a little box in his head and putting these negative feelings away in this box when they surface. The box is open once the patient is in a safe environment with his doctor. This is a very important step that brings confidence to the patient as he realizes he can indeed control his emotions and deal with them in a more appropriate time and place after he had time to think about them, thus avoiding having an exaggerated reaction.
CBT techniques for depression and CBT techniques for social anxiety disorder, as well as other types of anxiety disorder, also include yoga and meditation sessions. When a sufferer becomes anxious or depressed, he starts breathing heavier and faster, which causes the heart beat and blood pressure to rise. Having a higher heart rate can eventually lead to a wide variety of physical complications, such as migraines, stomach pain, dizziness and even fainting. Therefore it is crucial for patients who have been diagnosed with depression or an anxiety disorder to learn how to breathe properly in order to keep calm and avoid unnecessary complications. Yoga and meditation classes help sufferers not only improve their breathing skills but they also learn how to relax their muscles, which become extremely tense during an anxiety attack or when feeling depressed.
Trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy
The last step of cognitive behavioral therapy is self-control desensitization. This is considered to be a trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy session during which the doctor metaphorically first and then also literally takes the patient to face a situation that scares him or causes him depression. For example, if the patient is scared of flying, the doctor will have him get on a plane. First of all, the doctor verbally creates the traumatizing situation to test the patient’s reaction. After several sessions, the doctor has the sufferer face the real situation in order to test the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy.
Sometimes, especially when dealing with children who suffer from anxiety or depression, it is necessary to have a cognitive behavioral family therapy session in order for the parents to also understand what their child is going through and learn how to provide him with all the help he needs.
Even if it takes a long time for cognitive behavioral therapy to work, it is indeed a precious treatment that will help patients who stick with it to learn how to deal with, cure and eventually overcome their anxiety disorder and depression.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not have to be interpreted as a professional medical advice.