Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that helps individuals change their thoughts in order to change maladaptive or problematic actions and behaviors. CBT is a form of talk therapy that identifies negative thought patterns, and—over time—helps people change the behaviors that manifest as a result of those thought patterns.
The foundation of CBT therapy is all about mindset. It’s based on the concept that we create our own experiences—including pain—and that pain can be alleviated by changing the thought patterns associated with it. The theory is that if individuals can develop better coping skills for chronic pain conditions, CBT therapy could help with a variety of physical disorders or health issues.
Traditionally, CBT has been a powerful therapeutic modality, used by therapists to help those suffering from mental health issues. But now, research is showing it’s great for physical health, too. Of course, mental health and physical health are entwined—what affects the mind will also affect the body.
CBT is known to help with depression, anxiety and chronic pain. If the perception of pain stems from the brain, it makes sense that an induvial could reduce physical pain symptoms by changing the thoughts and behaviors that cause it. Pain causes stress, and stress affects the way pain is controlled by the brain… and CBT therapy reduces the arousal of those stress hormones.
According to the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, CBT is also an effective treatment alternative for patients taking opioids for non-cancer pain. It helps patients understand that their pain is a stressor, like all other stressors, which anyone can learn to cope with. Therapy for pain patients may include relaxation training, cognitive restructuring, and exercise—all designed to improve the quality of life and decrease pain.
Studies have also shown that CBT works to reduce the frequency of seizures. In a recent study, patients who engaged in four weeks of CBT had a 40% reduction in seizures, according to Yoko Nagai, PhD, of Brighton and Sussex Medical School in England.
The bottom line is CBT therapy is highly effective—not just for mental health, but for physical conditions, too. Whatever you may be struggling with—depression, grief or loss, anger management, or physical pain, etc.—Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be a great solution.
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