Healthy Living

What Conditions Are Treatable with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

What Conditions Are Treatable with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Key Takeaways

  • Because of the significant differences among anxiety disorders, each therapy should be customized according to one's unique symptoms and issues.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to address the distorted and negative perceptions towards the world and oneself.
  • Behavior therapies assess how someone behaves and reacts while in scenarios that cause anxiety.

Behavioral and cognitive therapies are types of psychotherapies that follow scientific principles in assisting individuals how to change their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. They are practical approaches that aim at solving problems.

An anxiety disorder may be present in people who experience obsessive thoughts, panic attacks, endless worries, or phobia with incapacitating effects. However, people shouldn’t live with fear and anxiety. Most people can do away with their problems by trying out therapy first. Specific therapy types such as the "exposure therapy" and "cognitive behavior therapy" are usually effective treatments. After receiving these therapies, you will be able to control the levels of your anxiety, avoid thoughts that trigger your worries, as well as get over your fears. 

The Use of Therapy in Treating Anxiety Disorders

In most cases, therapy is the most successful option for treating anxiety disorders because it goes beyond treating the symptoms of the condition unlike anxiety medicines. Therapies can assist you to discover the factors that lead to your fears and worries, become knowledgeable on the relaxation approaches, perceive scenarios in new and exciting ways, and acquire the necessary skills for coping and solving problems. Therapy treatment provides you the tools you need to conquer anxiety and shows you how to utilize them.

Because of the significant differences among anxiety disorders, each therapy should be customized according to one's unique symptoms and issues. The treatment for a person with an obsessive-compulsive disorder is different from a person who experiences anxiety attacks. The duration of each therapy will depend on the form and seriousness of the anxiety disorder being treated. Nevertheless, the majority of therapies for treating anxiety disorders are usually short-term.

Anxiety is treated using different types of therapy. However, the most common types are "exposure therapy" and "cognitive behavior therapy." Every therapy can be applied alone or together with other therapy types. Anxiety therapy may be given to one person or several groups of people based on their similar anxiety issues.

Treating Anxiety Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Most anxiety disorders, especially phobias, panic disorders, and social anxieties are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to address the distorted and negative perceptions towards the world and oneself. CBT has two major components: cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy.

  • Cognitive therapy - assesses how cognitions or negative thoughts can trigger anxiety. The treatment assists people with such thoughts to analyze how they reason and think, as well as helping them realize that they can think differently. People can try these options into practice to perceive the world and themselves differently and change their actions.
  • Behavior therapy - assesses how someone behaves and reacts while in scenarios that cause anxiety. It assists in the modification of unbeneficial behavior such as "avoidance" that could possibly worsen an individual's feelings and problems. The approach is focused on helping the person to be brave enough to face the situations that cause anxiety and fear. As a result, anxiety becomes lesser and the person learns a new behavior, which can be more helpful in handling specific situations or issues. This type of therapy is referred to as "exposure therapy."

Which conditions can cognitive behavioral therapy treat?

There is a significant evidence, which shows that CBT is an effective treatment for many conditions, especially the ones that are related to mental and physical health. Some of these conditions include:

  • Depression - A CBT with low-intensity, for instance, six to eight sessions spread over a period of 10 to 12 weeks, is an effective treatment for mild and severe depression. A computerized CBT can also assist in the treatment of such conditions. A high-intensity CBT, that is, 16 to 20 sessions spread over a period of 6 to 9 months, can be used together with antidepressants for treating severe depression.
  • Panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder - A high-intensity CBT is essential for treating a generalized anxiety disorder while low-intensity CBT is necessary for a panic disorder treatment. 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - OCD manifests certain obsessions such as recurrent thoughts, images, impulses, or compulsions. Compulsions are recurring patterns of thoughts and behavior adopted in pursuit of anxiety prevention. These behavioral and thought patterns consume a lot of time (over one hour daily) that can lead to a significant distress or remarkable incapacitation. The person discovers that these patterns are too much. As an effective mild OCD treatment, low-intensity CBT should be accompanied by exposure and relapse prevention for ultimate success. A low-intensity CBT can be given to an individual where the patient is equipped with materials for self-help or can be done through the telephone. Another option for a low-intensity CBT is to conduct a group therapy session, where multiple patients with similar conditions are taught together. If low-intensity CBT isn’t effective or in case the patient has OCD that causes a moderate functional incapacitation, then high-intensity cognitive behavioral therapy with exposure and relapse prevention and medication is recommended.  
  • Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) – A combination of CBT with exposure and relapse prevention (ERP) should be used for treating mild functional incapacitation occurring as a result of BDD. Medical therapy or higher intensity-CBT is normally necessary for treating moderate and severe functional incapacitation.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – people with PTSD should regularly and continuously be given a CBT that focuses on trauma, normally for 8 to 12 sessions.
  • Bipolar disorder - people with a bipolar disorder mostly have sudden mood swings, which are the major symptoms of the condition. Apart from creating tension in your interactions with other people and your career, these mood swings, if not treated early enough, can result in suicide.

Fortunately, it is possible to control a bipolar disorder. A combination of relevant medication and cognitive behavior therapy can be an effective solution for stabilizing a person's moods, thereby leading to a state of recovery.

Maximization of Bipolar Treatment

You should do the following to make your bipolar treatment ultimately successful:

  1. Pay attention to your physician - You should accept the fact that you are suffering from a bipolar disorder. You can easily stabilize your mood by doing exactly what your doctor advises you to do, including following medical prescriptions.
  2. Perform CBT assignments - You should put whatever you learn from the sessions into practice. 
  3. Study bipolar disorder further - go through self-help reading materials, become a member of a support group, and seek more information from your doctor or therapist. You should participate in your bipolar treatment actively to effectively get control over the condition.

CBT can also be used for treating other conditions such as:

  • bulimia
  • addiction to alcohol and drugs
  • schizophrenia
  • learning disability
  • chronic pain
  • relationship and sexual issues
  • destructive behavior
  • anger issues
  • sleep disturbance issues
  • chronic fatigue syndrome

Characteristics of CBT

  • A cognitive behavior therapy is applicable to lovers, families, groups, or individuals.
  • It is effective alone or alongside a person's medication.
  • The therapist and the patient will analyze the patient’s issues regarding interrelationships among certain behavior, feelings, and thoughts. The two then develop a mutual understanding of the issues.
  • The treatment concentrates on the present instead of the past.
  • The aims and ways of achieving the desired results are regularly developed and reviewed.
  • The treatment empowers patients to utilize their own resources and to sort out their issues.
  • The skills learned by the patients from the therapy can be applicable for their entire lives.
  • Patients are encouraged to practice what they learned from the sessions.
  • The patient’s needs and issues influence the duration of the therapy.
  • The patient and the therapist schedule follow-up sessions for proper progress.
  • People may get further support and information about their condition from reading therapy materials that usually come in leaflets and books.