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The Most Effective Therapies for Anxiety and Depression

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a short-term structured psychotherapy treatment to treat anxiety and depression.

Therapists identify current anxiety symptoms in patients, then modify dysfunctional behaviour or thinking by talking to them and helping them to take an objective or pragmatic viewpoint of chronic anxiety problems.

CBT gradually changes the way a person faces daily challenges and recovers with rational thought processes that last for a lifetime.

How Anxiety Becomes a Problem in Life
Anxiety is quite normal, especially for those exposed to busy city lifestyles. Conditions like job interviews, visits to the doctor, and even travelling in a lift can cause some amount of anxiety.

However, when people experience anxiety over extended periods of time, it turns into a medical problem and is identified as a general anxiety disorder. Symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Eating disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of concentration


Types of CBTs for Anxiety

There are different types of CBTs for anxiety, all aimed at identifying the root cause of anxiety, finding out how it is triggered, then structuring treatment plans based on symptoms experienced by the patient.

Negative feelings in patients may include panic, fear, worry, and anxiousness. These symptoms may be moderate to severe depending on how it affects the patient in daily life.

Psychotherapists at CBT4Panic are able to pinpoint circumstances that cause anxiety, identify challenges faced by the client, and then prescribe treatment based on this patient’s strengths to remove the symptoms of anxiety.

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Behavioral and cognitive therapies combine to form CBT, one of the most commonly used psychotherapy anxiety treatments. Therapists can try out cognitive therapy to identify irrational thoughts in the patient, and then use behavioral therapy to treat all kinds of mood-related issues. CBT for anxiety addresses symptoms and conditions of irrational behavior in the present. It helps identify thought distortions using what is commonly called “here and now” therapy. Several new techniques originate from case studies leading to variations in psychological treatments.

Third wave CBTs – Anxiety treatments have evolved over time to form what are known as Third Wave or Third Generation CBTs. Experienced therapists come up with modifications that are useful in counselling sessions to treat symptoms of anxiety. These Third Generation CBTs teach patients how to accept conditions of anxiety, then use their strengths to come up with enhanced treatments that do not just remove symptoms of anxiety, but also help patients avoid relapses of this mental illness.

2. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
This Third Generation CBT helps patients understand their anxiety-causing emotions and thoughts with scientific literature. Making them aware of negative behavioral traits is the first step. They begin to accept these negative thoughts as they arise, but with ACT they are able to develop skills like mindfulness in order to prevent relapses of these events in the future.

3. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
Evolved as a Third Generation anxiety treatment, DBT helps patients synthesize their negative emotions and feelings, then develop positive behavior to get rid of these disturbing thoughts.

DBT works in four stages:

Train patients to understand their irrational behavioral traits
Help patients to open up and experience their emotions
Determine specific goals for individuals to increase productivity
Teach patients to explore spirituality that leads to happiness and satisfaction
4. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
Improved upon in recent times, this Third Generation therapy helps people change their approach to disturbing thoughts. People suffering from anxiety and other illnesses like IBS and chronic pain experience success by focusing on mindfulness to remove symptoms. Patients change their judgmental attitudes with cognitive approaches that help develop mindfulness. In the process, negative thoughts are addressed from a distance to successfully remove anxiety over time.

5. Functional analytic psychotherapy (FAP)
Promoting and encouraging mindfulness, FAP offers a structured method for patients to understand what is and what is not relevant in real life. Therapy sessions help them develop positive feelings and understand how to avoid being overly critical about themselves. Human emotions like compassion, courage, acceptance, and love are explored using the “here and now” approach to increase self-esteem and love for life.

6. Compassion informed psychotherapy (CIP)
Another Third Wave therapy evolved out of traditional psychotherapy practices, CIP focuses on alleviating symptoms of anxiety by increasing self-worth in a person. For example, an individual suffering from low esteem can participate in therapy sessions to reduce stress while increasing self-confidence and building up the mindset needed to prevent further attacks of anxiety.

7. Integrative couple’s behavior therapy (ICBT)
By identifying characteristics that cause anxiety in partners, couples are able to use ICBT to improve communication between them. Happiness is derived out of planned pleasure trips, while a conscious effort to indulge in emphatic listening helps couples remove the symptoms of anxiety.

CBT Exercises For Patients
Patients suffering from anxiety can find quick cures by taking part in CBT for anxiety exercises, specially designed to address negative automatic thoughts. They learn to challenge them when they arise, then develop healthy rational thinking to get rid of them. These exercises are customized depending on the patient’s level of anxiety and success rates achieved with specific exercises.

1. Mindfulness meditation
Patients use mindfulness meditation to stay away from negative thoughts and live more in the present. Meditation can be performed in different ways as part of cognitive behavioral therapy to cure anxiety.

2. Maintain anxiety scales
The Anxiety Scale and Blue Scale are commonly used to measure and record anxiety levels as they occur. Treatments leading to improvement in anxiety are also recorded for future reference.

3. Graded exposure
This exercise helps patients to adopt behavioral traits they would normally avoid. Negative tendencies must be challenged, and graded exposure is one way of allowing patients to experience circumstances that lead to fear and anxiety on a regular basis. They then develop capabilities to overcome these symptoms with effective interventions.

4. Successive approximation
Difficult tasks are divided into segments that patients can understand. It becomes easier to perform this exercise when patients are aware of achievable goals. In this case, approximation is used to break down the symptoms. Patients learn to tackle one problem at a time to achieve success.

5. Cognitive restructuring
This CBT exercise allows patients to examine negative behavior in themselves. Effective methods (like maintaining thought records to tackle these negative feelings and replace them with alternate positive responses) are then adopted.

6. Breathing exercises
People suffering from anxiety may experience difficulty in breathing. In such cases, they can relax by performing breathing exercises to get rid of negative emotions, then experience calmness and clarity of thoughts. These breathing exercises are known to remove symptoms of rapid heart rate, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

7. Maintaining activity schedules
CBT for anxiety treatments may contain exercises to bring about behavioral changes. When patients record these activities and maintain frequencies of positive occurrences, they become better equipped to develop positive thought processes.

8. Develop cognitive and positive behavioral skills
Patients lacking the skills needed to overcome anxiety often have to take part in skill exercises that include role-playing and fulfilling direct instructions to meet specific goals.

9. Maintaining stress logs
Patients can keep track of negative thinking patterns to gain insight into how their minds work when experiencing panic attacks. They are able to identify negative behavioral traits that occur frequently. They then develop the skills to cope with them at a later date.

10. Challenging disruptive thought processes
The way to challenge negative thoughts is to face them when they arise in a structured manner that helps patients convert these distorted thoughts into positive mental behavior.

11. Daily exercise schedule
For best results, patients may fill in daily action sheets to address symptoms of depression. Every day, they perform specific cognitive exercises, then enter outcomes into their daily exercise sheets. In time, individuals are able to identify negative as well as positive traits, then follow a customized exercise plan to recover from anxiety.

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CBT for Major Depression
A report published in the Joint Clinical Psychiatry in 2013 indicated pharmacotherapy trailed behind psychotherapy by a 1:3 ratio as an effective treatment for depression. Also, CBT for anxiety is considered to be more cost-effective than pharmacotherapy, especially if follow-up periods are considered.

The primary treatment of major depression includes strategies like monitoring patient moods and daily activities, scheduling week-by-week activities to help patients master these activities and derive pleasure from them, and lastly identifying and reducing negative behavioral traits that increase symptoms of depression.

CBT Benefits Across Major Depression Settings
Meta-analysis indicates benefits offered by CBT performed in a clinic can address symptoms of depression as well as secondary outputs generating enduring positive outcomes and lowering maintenance costs to sustain long-term treatment of major depression.
CBT performed in a group brings down the cost of treatment and turns out to be as effective as individual therapy sessions over the long term.
As compared to the use of antidepressant medications and behavioral activation techniques, CBT for anxiety turned out to be around 61% more efficient in preventing relapses of major depression.
CBT Training For Individuals
Symptoms of anxiety vary and may affect people in different ways. Therefore, even individuals suffering from borderline anxiety disorders must prepare themselves with cognitive behavioral therapy training.

Cognitive development
New techniques and exercises are developed for CBT based on case studies. They are then structured into training materials for individuals suffering from anxiety. For example, constantly thinking of impending danger allows anxiety to creep in. Individuals must be trained to overcome these negative thoughts and respond differently. The ideal cognitive development training teaches them to recondition their thought processes and turn negative thoughts into rational thoughts. Training methods at CBT4Panic may include:

Slow walk/relaxation/slowing down/slow talk
Step-by-step improvement – Individuals listen to reason and do away with lies with increased focus. For instance, sufferers are able to identify negative behaviors, challenge them, then develop positive emotions without getting aggressive. Therapeutic exercises are prescribed to remove anxiety.
Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) – Train the mind to divert attention, focus, and interest away from automatic negative thoughts.
Talking to self – By constantly repeating helpful statements, individuals are able to change negative to positive attitude on a permanent basis.
Acceptance paradox – When one learns to accept their faults, the acceptance paradox becomes a useful tool that helps individuals understand they can break down, are ineffective and imperfect at times, and can handle difficult situations with better understanding.
Behavioral development
Individuals learn to put themselves in difficult situations, identify positive behavioral traits, then find solutions that help them drive away anxiety and depression. Behavioral development training is often considered part of their homework after therapy sessions. Exercises and techniques taught to individuals and therapy are repeated at home. With patience and understanding, this training can remove anxiety permanently.

Relaxation techniques
Techniques that teach individual to relax are important components of daily training to get rid of anxiety. Individuals learn to breathe calmly and relax their muscles. Patients remove tension by systematically flexing groups of muscles. It becomes easier for individuals to face erratic breathing episodes and remove tension.

Emotional development
When individuals undergo therapy, they are offered de-stress strategies to develop emotionally. These strategies help them achieve calm and peace. They learn to fill their minds with therapeutic information gathered at counselling sessions. In time, these individuals are able to find inner peace and can easily overcome fears and anxieties.

Exposure to fear
Exposure to conditions that cause anxiety and fear is another important part of training. Individuals learn about what causes fear in them, then adapt by constantly exposing themselves to similar conditions. For instance, travelling in an elevator can cause anxiety in people who feel trapped in enclosed spaces. Avoiding travelling in lifts is just a short-term solution. The mind must be conditioned to overcome fear by repeating the exercise.

Avoiding relapses
Training the mind to overcome anxiety is a much better option over the long term. With practice, individuals learn to deal with emotional stress and anxiety. Once they experience positive outcomes, the mind is trained to follow similar techniques and exercises that prevent relapses in the future. Weekly schedules are prepared to practice CBT for anxiety skills. Individuals learn to look for warning signs, then use CBT techniques and exercises to prevent further episodes.

Benefits of CBT
Consideration must be given to a treatment plan that does not endorse the use of medication to get rid of chronic problems like anxiety. The benefits of CBT cannot be ignored when dealing with symptoms related to depression and other mental illnesses. In fact, research has shown schizophrenia can be treated with CBT.

Some major benefits of CBT are:

1. Patients suffering from chronic illnesses like schizophrenia can actually participate in treatment plans and effectively overcome psychotic symptoms with CBT techniques and exercises. They learn to identify negative thoughts using collaborative empiricism, confront them with a positive frame of mind, and get rid of hallucinations, delusions, and depression without resorting to disruptive processes. CBT for anxiety techniques and strategies are applied to initiate rational thinking by doing away with unwanted thoughts and preventing negative thought processes from developing repeatedly.

2. Experts consider CBT to be the best treatment for anxiety and depression for both moderate and severe depression. Negative behavior is slowly removed from the mind by adopting altered thinking processes and developing positive feelings. CBT has the potential to match pharmacotherapy in curing depression and in several cases brings about a lasting solution.

3. CBT affords long-term benefits for mental illnesses with or without the help of antidepressants. Patients usually try out antidepressants to get rid of anxiety problems before resorting to CBT treatments. Though short-term benefits are similar, CBT turns out to be a much more affordable and long-lasting solution for anxiety.

4. The short-term effects of CBT are also positive when therapists complete treatment in a few weeks. Patients are then given exercises and techniques to follow up at home to ensure permanent results.

5. Therapists make use of technology during counselling sessions to speed up the process of curing anxiety. Therapeutic sessions may include computer programs, counselling sessions, and self-help books as follow-up aids.

6. One of the most effective uses of CBT is treatment without historical data. Symptoms of anxiety appear when patients are taken through circumstances leading to stress. They learn to connect negative behavior and thoughts to incidents that led to anxiety in the past. Solutions are offered in the present, and patients find relief quickly by altering behavioral traits that cause anxiety.

CBT for anxiety sustains positive changes in patient behavior by teaching them how to deal with stressful situations. CBT4Panic offers training techniques especially designed for them.

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