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In today’s society, doctors and psychiatrists are quick to prescribe psychotropic drugs that often come with dangerous side effects for any disorder that stems from thought patterns. But a better, safer way to manage and treat stress and brain disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type of talk therapy (psychotherapy). You work with a mental health counselor (psychotherapist or therapist) in a structured way, attending a limited number of sessions. CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way.
CBT can be a very helpful tool in treating mental health disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an eating disorder. But not everyone who benefits from CBT has a mental health condition. It can be an effective tool to help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations.
Researchers found the strongest support for CBT in treating anxiety disorders, somatoform disorders, bulimia, anger control problems and general stress. After reviewing 11 review studies comparing improvement rates between CBT and other therapy treatments, they found that CBT showed higher response rates than the comparison treatments in seven of the 11 reviews (more than 60 percent). Only one of 11 reviews reported that CBT had lower response rates than comparison treatments, leading researchers to believe that CBT is one of the most effective therapy treatments there is.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to treat a wide range of issues. It’s often the preferred type of psychotherapy because it can quickly help you identify and cope with specific challenges. It generally requires fewer sessions than other types of therapy and is done in a structured way.
CBT is a useful tool to address emotional challenges. For example, it may help you:
*Manage symptoms of mental illness
*Prevent a relapse of mental illness symptoms
*Treat a mental illness when medications aren’t a good option
*Learn techniques for coping with stressful life situations
*Identify ways to manage emotions
*Resolve relationship conflicts and learn better ways to communicate
*Cope with grief or loss
*Overcome emotional trauma related to abuse or violence
*Cope with a medical illness
*Manage chronic physical symptoms
Mental health disorders that may improve with CBT include:
*Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
*Substance use disorders
In some cases, CBT is most effective when it’s combined with other treatments, such as antidepressants or other medications.
In general, there’s little risk in getting cognitive behavioral therapy. Because it can explore painful feelings, emotions and experiences, you may feel emotionally uncomfortable at times. You may cry, get upset or feel angry during a challenging session, or you may also feel physically drained.
Some forms of CBT, such as exposure therapy, may require you to confront situations you’d rather avoid — such as airplanes if you have a fear of flying. This can lead to temporary stress or anxiety.
However, working with a skilled therapist will minimize any risks. The coping skills you learn can help you manage and conquer negative feelings and fears.