How Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety Works

How Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety Works

Are you one of the 40 million adults in the US who suffer from anxiety disorders each year? Unfortunately, anxiety is a common occurrence in our society. It can have negative impacts on your life and impact your ability to go about your day-to-day activities. The good news is that there are treatment options available, including cognitive therapy for anxiety.

Keep reading to learn more about cognitive therapy for anxiety and how it might be able to help you overcome your anxiety disorder.

What Is Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders often manifest themselves as excessive fear or worry. There are 11 different anxiety disorders. These include separation anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety, among others.

Regardless of which specific anxiety disorder you have, the common characteristics include extreme fear or worry, inability to control that fear or worry, restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, and difficulty concentrating. These things often impact a person’s ability to function in social or work settings.

They often go hand-in-hand with negative thought process and poor social adaptations. This makes them ideal disorders to treat with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is the most commonly used treatment for anxiety disorders. Research has consistently shown that it works in treating panic disorders, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

CBT works by addressing the negative thinking patterns that people with anxiety have. The cognitive piece of CBT examines how our negative thoughts (or cognitions) contribute to anxiety. Behavior therapy examines how we react and behave in situations that cause anxiety.

The main assumption of CBT is that our negative thoughts impact the way we feel. If mental health professionals can help you identify those negative thoughts, then CBT is an option to reduce anxiety.

How Does Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety Work?

To treat anxiety, CBT uses something called thought challenging. Thought challenging is a process where you challenge the negative thinking that caused your anxiety. You then replace them with positive and realistic thoughts.

This process occurs in 3 steps:

  1. Identify your negative thoughts. To do this, you can ask yourself what you were thinking when you began to feel anxious.
  2. Challenge your negative thoughts by thinking about their cause. Also, think about how realistic these thoughts are. To do this, you might conduct an experiment or weigh the pros and cons of worrying or avoiding the things you fear, and think about how likely it is that what you are worried about will really happen.
  3. Replace the negative thoughts with realistic ones. You might think of calming statements you can say to yourself when you face a situation that causes anxiety.

A trained therapist can lead you through this process.

One additional feature of CBT is the use of assignments to do at home. CBT isn’t just limited to what happens in your therapist’s office and wants you to practice this process at home.

Your Next Steps

If you have an anxiety disorder, a mental health professional can help you decide if cognitive therapy for anxiety is right for you. Contact us today for a free consultation to see if we can help you overcome your anxiety.

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