Struggling with anxiety and depression can cause many people to live their lives in the shadows. These conditions are serious, and they can frequently be debilitating. These disorders frequently feed each other. It’s very common to hear a therapist say, “Yes, you do have anxiety, but you may also be struggling with depression.”
However, there’s a theory that you can control your emotions by controlling your thoughts. Thoughts produce emotions, and emotions produce behaviors. So if you change your thoughts, you can change your behaviors.
When it comes to helping people with anxiety and depression, few therapies are as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is also called talk therapy. To understand why CBT works well with these disorders, it’s important to understand what anxiety and depression are.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders is replete with various types of anxiety disorders, from General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Therefore, it’s clear that anxiety is taking on different forms. The root of anxiety is usually due to the mind’s overactive nature.
An anxious mind is hardly ever at rest. Therefore, it provides little comfort to patients when you point out that their thoughts are illogical. They know they’re being irrational, and they know they haven’t been able to find a way out.
GAD involves anxiety in a variety of different situations. PTSD is the result of acute trauma or several traumatic experiences over a period of time, so people with PTSD may have trouble sleeping and handling the functions of daily life. PTSD is rampant among soldiers and police officers.
People with SAD find reasons to isolate themselves because they’re extremely apprehensive about being in social situations. Therefore, many folks with SAD have trouble in social settings because they’re fixated on others’ judgements. They struggle with the idea that people won’t like them, or they’ll find what they say and do to be substandard.
Depression is a mood disorder. It’s characterized by persistent feelings of gloom that extend beyond having a bad day. Associated behaviors of people afflicted with depression include:
Anxiety feeds into depression because the feelings of inadequacy associated with anxiety fuel the depressive fire. Therefore, patients are often afflicted by both disorders.
Many therapist prefer to treat anxiety and depression via CBT because it gives patients tools to treat themselves. Since only MDs and nurse practitioners can prescribe antidepressants or antianxiety pills, it’s important for therapists to give patients the tools to control their mindset and organically deal with their disorders.
Conditioning is a critical part of behaviorism. The goal is to teach patients to reward themselves for a positive behavior and have tactics to cope with symptoms as they arise. Getting patients into a routine eventually conditions the mind. Here’s a simple but effective tactic: When a negative thought pops up, counteract it by writing a positive one down.
Another behavioral therapy for anxiety involves slowly introducing a patient to the conditions that make them anxious. Regarding SAD, support groups can be particularly helpful. Patients learn there is a safe space among other people, so they can feel more confident about their everyday endeavors.
Some great exercises can help patients understand and treat their dual disorders. One of the best methods that therapists use to help patients is journaling, which allows patients to see how their thoughts are working and gives therapists insight into their patients’ minds. The key to successful cognitive therapy is having the patient change their thought processes.
Combining changing thought processes with behaviors gives patients a great opportunity to be successful. In several psychological and psychiatric journals, CBT is considered highly effective, so it’s the go-to therapy because it doesn’t involve medication or other modalities.
Treating depression and anxiety with CBT is one of the best ways for therapists to get inside the mind of their patients and help them get to the point that these conditions do not prove to be a struggle in their lives. Both anxiety and depression are quite treatable. CBT goes a long way towards helping patients understand how their mind is working and gives them the tools to repair their thought process and live a fuller, happier life.
HelpGuide (n.d.) Therapy for Anxiety Disorders. from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/therapy-for-anxiety-disorders.htm
National Center for Biotechnical Information. (n.d.). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: An Update on the Empirical Evidence. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4610618/
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Helpful Guide to Different Therapy Options. from https://adaa.org/finding-help/treatment/therapy
Psychology Today. (n.d.). Cognitive Behavioral Skills You’ll Need to Beat Anxiety. from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201212/cognitive-behavioral-skills-youll-need-beat-anxiety