Consider CBT For Mixed Anxiety and Depression Treatment
When it comes to mixed anxiety and depression treatment, CBT is very effective. It is very common to experience mixed anxiety and depression at the same time. If you have both anxiety and depression, you know how hard life can feel. Mental health disorders (I prefer the words human conditions) are far more common than most people think. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people experience anxiety and or depression at any given time. And, many people are surprised to hear that those who suffer from anxiety are more prone to depression and vice versa.
There are many treatment options for the various anxiety disorders and depression. But, is there anything that is effective when you have both? Treating a mixed combination of anxiety and depression is possible through various therapeutic methods. One of the most useful and therapy tools for this combination is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
What Is CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy)?
Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT is a scientific-backed and evidence based treatment to help treat a variety of psychiatric disorders. It dictates that our thoughts and beliefs influence our feelings and behaviors, and vice versa. CBT helps to explain the connections and domino effects that thinking and behaving have on our emotions and body.
Essentially, the thoughts that we have can contribute to many mental health conditions including anxiety and depression. CBT works to counteract these maladaptive thoughts that take root in our brains and unhelpful behavior patterns that keep anxiety and depression going. CBT challenges the negative thoughts by replacing them with more supportive ones and identifies which behaviors are helpful and which ones are not.
How Does CBT Help?
One great thing about CBT is that it can help anyone, no matter what they are going through (including if someone does not meet criteria for a mood disorder (condition). For people who suffer from both anxiety and depression, CBT can be a powerful tool to help retrain their brains. And frankly, CBT can help anyone learn how to manage emotions.
Unlike therapy approaches of the past, CBT focuses on coping in the present and learning how to train your brain in helpful ways for the future. One key goal of a CBT Therapist is to help you learn how to become your own therapist / coach as quickly as possible. As such, CBT Teaches you how to keep using CBT long after you stop meeting with a therapist.
The ‘Cognitive’ Part of Cognitive Behavior Therapy: CBT Acts As Cognitive Intervention
CBT works to counteract the negative thoughts that sound off in your head. These negative thoughts often lead to negative emotions and as a consequence, negative behaviors and vice versa.
Instead of letting the negative thoughts have their way, CBT will help you generate alternative supportive thoughts to replace the negative and critical thoughts. One of the hardest things about dealing with both depression and anxiety is the conflicting natures of the beasts.
We’ll use this as an example to explain how your mixed anxiety and depression could benefit from CBT.
It’s a Tuesday night and you have a load of clothes to fold and the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. Your depression prevents you from wanting to get up to do these things. And you’re anxiety is telling you that you have to get up now, but it’s so overwhelming that you don’t know where to start. So, you sit there. Nothing gets done and your anxiety and depression increase.
Now imagine what is going through your brain. Your depression is having you think, “I can’t do anything right anyways, I’ll end up messing this up somehow, too” and your anxiety is on the other end saying, “There’s too much to do, I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.”
What CBT does is coach you to counteract both of these thoughts. Instead of ridiculing yourself for not doing anything right, your brain will counteract this with, “I may mess up sometimes, but I am doing my best,” and the feelings of overwhelm are replaced with, “I’ll fold half the clothes tonight then finish the rest tomorrow. Then the day after I will unload the dishwasher.”
It helps you to break these thoughts down into manageable chunks so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
The ‘Behavior’ Part of Cognitive Behavior Therpay: Altered Behaviors
When you begin to replace the negative thoughts with supportive, affirming ones, your behaviors will begin to change as well.
Working through the negative thoughts will help you overcome the barriers that you are facing. So in the example above, your ruminating overwhelm coupled with the degrading talk prevents you from doing anything at all. Once you begin working through these issues, you should find that completing tasks, in whatever way is more manageable to you, will help your anxiety and depression shut up. Literally.
The other great thing here with CBT is that you don’t have to wait for the thinking to change, to start changing and challenging behaviors. During a CBT session for mixed anxiety and depression, your CBT Therapist will help you identify what behaviors help you feel better and which ones make you feel worse. With this information, you will start to make small behavioral changes which will help your mood and your thinking.
Change In Your Emotions (And Life)
As you learn to manage your thoughts and behaviors, you’ll find your emotions are lifted as well. Instead of feeling sad or anxious over getting stuff done, or depressed for not getting something done, it will be replaced with feelings of accomplishment and support. The skills you learn in CBT will be there for you for the rest of your life, long after you have healed from anxiety and depression.
If anxiety and depression are starting to take over your life and steal your joy, you don’t have to go through it alone and help is available. CBT for mixed anxiety and depression teaches you how to manage and change the unhelpful inner monologue and unhelpful behaviors that go with anxiety and depression. To read more about Cognitive Behavior Therapy, please click HERE.
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Hawaii and an Accredited CBT Therapist in the UK with over 15 years of experience. I specialize in anxiety treatments, including mixed anxiety and depression therapy. I have received advanced specialist training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy. Please feel free to contact me at my Honolulu or London clinic to set up a CBT for Anxiety and Depression Test Drive.