Depression, anxiety, addiction, and many other debilitating mental conditions share a certain distressing commonality: People thus afflicted find themselves caught in a vicious cycle. Their strong, negative feelings lead to stronger, negative thoughts and then unhelpful or even destructive behavior, which only leads to more negative feelings, thoughts and behavior. Without intervention, they find themselves on a slippery downward slope.
Along with proper medication, many psychotherapists recommend Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) as a way for patients to learn how to recognize their unique, destructive patterns of thinking and then develop strategies to short-circuit them.
What’s Under The Hood?
The first step in CBT is to poke around in your own noggin in an effort to pinpoint the source of the anger, depression, anxiety, or other feelings that jump-start the vicious cycle. Often you’ll be asked to keep a journal in order to better recognize when and how the negativity begins. Recognizing the triggers is the first step in taking a measure of control.
How Do I Drive This Thing?
Once you’ve got a better sense of what starts the cycle, a psychotherapist will strategize with you on how to dampen or divert that negativity. Feelings are difficult to change, but you do have some power over what you think and what you do.
I Can Choose Where I Want To Go
One way patients counteract negative thoughts is by drafting positive statements of fact to directly confrontation anxious thoughts or fears. Consistently summoned to mind, these positive rejoinders will eventually arise spontaneously to dampen the negativity they were armed to battle.
I’m Taking A Turn In The Right Direction
With CBT, patients are given multiple strategies to modify their behavior in reaction to negative thoughts. Pausing before taking action is a simple but effective technique to use once you recognize that you’re in a distressing situation. Mindful deep breaths and summoning positive imagery can also help. Psychotherapists have a wide array of CBT techniques to help patients handle their afflictions in a pro-active, positive way.
If you suspect CBT could help you, contact a psychotherapist who will perform a complete evaluation before recommending an individualized therapeutic treatment plan.