What is Anxiety?
We all sometimes experience feelings of worry and nervousness. An anxiety disorder, however, involves excessive uneasiness. This chronic apprehension is usually combined with panic attacks and/or some kind of compulsive behavior. We don’t always know we have an anxiety disorder because we may be more focused on the symptoms.
Common anxiety symptoms
- Edginess, inability to rest, sleep problems
- Dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations
- Headaches, chest pain, neck tension
- Stomach issues, nausea
- Pulsing in the ear
- A sense of dread or doom
- Wondering if you are “going crazy”
Quite often, the external causes of anxiety fall under the large umbrella of “stress.” Such anxiety can be the result of being stressed about:
- Personal relationships
- Loss of a loved one
- Illness or injury
What is CBT?
Cognitive behavior therapy or CBT is a term for a type of talk therapy. In general, the focus isn’t on digging through childhood issues for root causes. With CBT, you work to challenge distorted thinking and change behavior patterns. The focus is always: solutions. Your past is factored in but your present is where CBT shines a light.
Studies find that CBT helps patients control their:
Many times, anxiety springs from a distorted perception of reality. CBT is all about learning the difference between perceptions and reality. This makes CBT an effective treatment for anxiety.
4 Ways CBT is an Effective Treatment for Anxiety
1. You can immediately begin to feel what change is like
A common CBT approach is to begin listing and describing what it will look and feel like to change. Such visualization can help move things along. Things don’t have to be ideal for you to imagine what change would be like. Give your brain an anxiety vacation. Take a trip of sorts to a place where you feel less anxious and more capable of managing stress as it arises. Imagine, with all your being, what that feels like. Then work towards it.
2. You’ll learn you can act normal even when you don’t feel normal
Anxiety feeds off of your response to it. With the help of CBT, you will learn how to temper your reactions. Rather than “fuel the fire,” you’ll practice responding calmly even when you feel very anxious. This sends your brain and body messages that there’s no need to panic.
3. You will develop a better recognition of your feelings and fears
It’s a cliché, but for good reason: Name your emotions. If you suddenly feel you want to lock yourself away, ask why? Write it down. Mull it over. Consider the causes. Most importantly, ponder reactions that don’t create more anxiety and panic. Keeping a journal is useful in this exercise and that journal is something you can bring to your therapy sessions.
4. You can live more in the present
CBT goes hand-in-hand with mindfulness. In the moment, it’s easier to see through your perceptions and distortions. So much of anxiety is based on past experiences or fears about the future. Right here and now, there may be some clearing. Learning how to stay present in your daily life is a giant step towards treating anxiety.
CBT skills are not unlike any other skills. They require some practice and are best learned with the help of a guide. This is particularly true when seeking treatment for anxiety. Your therapy sessions are a safe space. Where better to address anxiety than a location that makes you calm? These CBT sessions, for starters, will offer you a chance to experience reality without the filter of your anxiety perceptions.