How Effective is CBT For Anxiety?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a very effective anxiety disorder treatment and can help the millions of people who suffer from anxiety to manage their symptoms. CBT therapy helps in overcoming anxiety because it changes the way that someone thinks so that they can avoid triggering feelings that can induce anxiety. Overcoming anxiety with CBT therapy can take just a few months. It can permanently reduce anxiety by giving individuals the positive tools to eliminate the symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety Disorders Are Increasingly Common
Anxiety disorders are on the rise. More than 3 million people every year are diagnosed with anxiety disorder. However, it is estimated that millions more people suffer from anxiety and are not diagnosed. Anxiety can be part of another disorder like PTSD or depression or it can be a disorder all by itself. Severe anxiety makes it difficult for people to leave their homes, work, and enjoy their lives.
There are several different types of anxiety disorders that can range from mild to severe including:
- Generalized Panic Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Separation Anxiety
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Medical Anxiety related to a specific medical condition
CBT for anxiety can help alleviate anxiety symptoms associated with all of these disorders. CBT can eliminate the disorder entirely in some cases by helping the individual change their thought pattern and change their reaction to the triggers that used to cause anxiety and a feeling of doom or danger.
Symptoms Of Anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety can be severe enough to make people think that they are having a real medical emergency like a heart attack but often it’s not a medical emergency. It’s just that the intensity of the symptoms makes your body react as if there is a medical problem. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
How CBT Can Treat Anxiety
CBT therapy is built on the idea that negative automatic thoughts to a stimulus are responsible for the symptoms of conditions like depression and anxiety. When someone who suffers from depression and anxiety undergoes therapy to change those negative thoughts, they can change the way they react to that stimulus just be replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones.
In order to do that the person needs to understand the pattern of their thoughts, identify the specific negative thought that is responsible for causing a particular symptom, and then change that thought. Through the process of CBT a person will be able to figure out their negative thoughts and where those negative thoughts came from so that they can change them.
Once they change those negative or dysfunctional thoughts, they will be able to change other negative thoughts as well until they are able to eliminate the symptoms of anxiety altogether and live anxiety free even in situations that used to trigger severe anxiety.
Does CBT For Anxiety Work?
According to some studies using CBT to treat anxiety disorders can be as effective as using medication to treat anxiety disorders. Some people don’t respond well to medical for disorders like depression or anxiety. Other people don’t want to take medication for anxiety or depression because they are afraid of the possible side effects that can result form taking those medication.
For people who don’t tolerate medication well or don’t want to take medication CBT is a fantastic alternative. CBT is designed to be a short-term therapy that lasts usually between 5-10 months. It also is designed to target a specific problem or symptom so the goal of the therapy is clear form the beginning. It’s not meant to be a therapy where the individual could end up spending years getting to the root of the problem.
Some people struggle with CBT because in order for it to work the individual does need to do a lot of self-reflection and self-analysis. Sometimes CBT can mean reliving painful memories or going back into the past and digging up some painful truths. But ultimately the hard work is worth is because it will effectively treat anxiety.
CBT can change the way that your brain operates and your entire pattern of automatic thoughts so that you can get the mental and physical health benefits of positive thoughts. It can also be so effective that you won’t suffer from the symptoms of anxiety anymore. A few months of self-reflection and working with a specialist in CBT can change your life and help you live anxiety free and not afraid all the time.