It is thought that as many as 1 in 4 people suffers from some form of depression. If you have never suffered from depression you might believe that the sole treatment is anti-depressants. While this is one of the forms of treatment used, the treatment that has shown to be the most effective in treating depression and anxiety is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy?
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (or CBT) is a talking therapy. It is very different from counselling. Counselling tends to be sessions where a person talks about their past and their fears and a counsellor attempts to “unpick” all that has gone on in their life and make sense of why the person is suffering and then attempts to give the person a sense of closure.
CBT has a much more pronounced focus on the present. It is a multifaceted therapy that aims to give people the “tools” to manage their condition. So in many ways, CBT isn’t considered a cure but it aims to help people cope. What are these various facets?
What does CBT consist of?
The different aspects of CBT are vast and what works for some people won’t work for others. Due to the nature of the treatment, it is sometimes appropriate for people to use this therapy by themselves. Because of this, there are online resources and people can “self-help”. There are also group sessions and individual session depending on what practitioner you use.
Managing the physical
One of the things they focus on is meditation. Often if a person has an anxiety attack they will endure physical symptoms. These range from shortness of breath to a rapid heartbeat, plus can include symptoms such as stomach pains and chest pains. Severe anxiety suffers can feel so physically bad that they believe they are having a heart attack.
Fortunately, these symptoms can be quelled and managed through meditation and breathing techniques. While this isn’t always going to be effective it is a good “weapon” to have in the arsenal.
Another area where CBT can be invaluable is in helping you to identify negative trends. The therapist may ask you about recent panic attacks. Through talking they will try and ascertain triggers or patterns and will then suggest a bespoke approach taking into consideration the issues leading to anxiety. This level of CBT is obviously highly nuanced and requires experienced professionals.
There are lots of CBT-style activities that people can use to aid themselves. As previously mentioned trying to identify negative cycles and having the tools required to avoid those cycles leading to a flashpoint. However, there are simple mindfulness and wellness activities that people can use in order to generally improve their mental health. Websites like mood-café are great for this.
There are also simple activities such as making a list of the things that are worrying you. You can then propose ideas to solve those issues and then attempt to do them. It is amazing how much better you can end up feeling just by clearing some of the small worries from your mind.
CBT Vs drugs
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy isn’t a cure for depression and anxiety. Anti-depressants, at least in theory are. Studies have shown that CBT is a more effective treatment, but ultimately it isn’t going to get rid of those feelings just make you better equipped to manage them. To be quite honest CBT is a worthwhile endeavour for non-depression suffers too. It provides you with invaluable techniques to deal with life’s stresses. Prevention really is better than a cure and because of that, I would personally recommend this type of treatment for those with poor mental health and people whose mental health is great alike.