Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. During CBT a therapist will actively work with a person to uncover unhealthy patterns of thought and how they may be causing self-destructive behaviors and beliefs.
By addressing these patterns, the person and therapist can work together to develop constructive ways of thinking that will produce healthier behaviors and beliefs. For instance, CBT can help someone replace thoughts that lead to low self-esteem (“I can’t do anything right”) with positive expectations (“I can do this most of the time, based on my prior experiences”).
The core principles of CBT are identifying negative or false beliefs and testing or restructuring them. Oftentimes someone being treated with CBT will have homework in between sessions where they practice replacing negative thoughts with with more realistic thoughts based on prior experiences or record their negative thoughts in a journal.
Studies of CBT have shown it to be an effective treatment for a wide variety of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia. Individuals who undergo CBT show changes in brain activity, suggesting that this therapy actually improves your brain functioning as well.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has a considerable amount of scientific data supporting its use and many mental health care professionals have training in CBT, making it both effective and accessible.
Categories of Mental Health Illness
- Anxiety Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Dissociative Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Monitored Co-Occurring Disorders
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Addiction
Co occurring Disorders – Alcohol Abuse and Mental Health Issues Combined
Addiction and mental illness are identified as separate and distinct issues that can—and often do—occur together. Effective treatment for co-occurring disorders depends on an accurate diagnosis, which can be a highly complex and somewhat subjective process. There are key considerations related to the prevalence, diagnosis, and treatment of co-occurring disorders.
Are people with addiction at greater risk of having a co-occurring mental health disorder?
As reported in Hazelden’s Research Update on “Addiction and Mental Illness,” the prevalence of substance use disorders in the general population is about 16 percent and nearly doubles to 29 percent for people with mental health disorders.
Mental Health Illnesses That commonly are Dual Diagnosed:
- Anxiety disorders
Why do these disorders occur together so frequently?
While answers about co-occurrence aren’t conclusive, there are many theories. The Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center puts forth several theories, including the following:
- Self-medication. People use alcohol or other drugs to “self-medicate” against disturbing symptoms of mental illness.
- Early onset. Certain drugs of abuse (e.g., methamphetamine, cocaine, alcohol) may precipitate an earlier onset of mental illness in certain vulnerable individuals.
- Genetic and environmental. Genetic predisposition or environmental factors (poverty, social isolation, or lack of structure, for example) may cause both substance use problems and mental illness.
- Susceptibility. People with mental illnesses may be more susceptible to the harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs.
What type of treatment is recommended for co-occurring disorders?
An integrated treatment approach is key, with a focus on stabilizing symptoms of the co-occurring mental health disorder while providing the patient with a foundation for recovery from addiction.