Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has had a huge amount of research carried out on it by medical professional scientists to show its effectiveness against depressive disorders. More and more people suffer from depression and other mental health problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), acute anxiety and eating disorders. This could be due to the global economic downturn and people struggling with employment and housing or it could be that depression is not the taboo subject that it once was, and many people are more open about their suffering nowadays. It is perfectly normal to get depression at any point in life as it can be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain which you have no control over.
At one time doctors would simply give you anti-depressants to deal with anxiety or low mood without addressing the cause. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a brilliant way to treat mental health problems, either instead of medication or alongside it. It is not the type of treatment where you would lie on a couch and tell the doctor all about your past. CBT totally focuses on the here and now, and how a person is feeling on a day to day basis. It is a therapy which will not cure depression, but it will help you think more positively about things in general by changing negative behavioral cycles.
People who suffer from depression and anxiety etc, think very negatively about life and about themselves. A CBT therapist works with a patient to identify the link between negative thoughts and the effect it has on a person’s mood. A specially trained therapist will encourage a person to concentrate on their negative thought and address it. To ask themselves questions such as ‘why did I just have that thought and what triggered it’ and ‘How does the thought make me feel and how can I change the negative way I feel to a positive feeling’. A CBT therapist will ask the patient to keep a mood and thought journal. They are expected to keep a daily record of any negative thoughts they have and how it affects their mood. CBT basically addresses the way we think, feel and then how we go on to behave as a result of these thoughts. Similarly, if a person occasionally has a nice thought with even a hint of positivity, CBT would encourage internalization of how the nice thought made them feel. This ‘behavioral exposure’ is quite a baptism of fire but has proven positive results.
CBT has a very high success rate for people suffering from certain mental health problems such as clinical depression, OCD, body dimorphic disorder, anxiety and eating disorders. By keeping thought journals as well as talking openly to a qualified therapist, sufferers can begin to change their negative thought patterns by recognizing it when it comes, analyzing it and then letting it go, no longer dwelling on it and letting it trigger low mood. Most people find having a year or so of CBT therapy makes them feel empowered and more assertive, resulting in less negative emotional feelings.
Of course CBT does not suit everyone and is not helpful for all conditions. Some people find it too distressing to write down their thoughts and analyse the way they are feeling as this in itself can bring on an anxiety attack. There are other things to try such as meditation, mindfulness and hypnosis which have all proved to be effective in helping to cope with depression and putting a more positive spin on thinking patterns.
About the author
Grace Pamer is a work from home mom and the author of www.RomanceNeverDies.com, one woman’s on going quest to get the world reacquainted with the art of writing love letters.