When I first went to the doctors about my panic attacks I was told I’d be referred for some counselling as this is the most effective way to treat mental health problems. My heart sunk. Those that know me will know that talking about feelings or problems or issues; not my thing, in fact I actively avoid it. I had a misguided view of counselling as having to go and sit in a room with an old patronising person who didn’t understand what was going on in my life and talk about everything that has happened in the past and all my present circumstances to try and figure out what had gone wrong! Frankly, I couldn’t think of a worse way to spend an hour of my time. However what I had actually been referred to was CBT, which in a kind twist of events I was actually able to do through a series of online sessions! If I’m completely honest I’m not actually CBT’s biggest fan but I realise that it is helping and can see how it could definitely help problems like mine!
For those of you that don’t know what CBT is, it stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it is a way of looking at thought and behaviour patterns that affect your mood. It then works on changing them so that they have a better affect on your life. Just to be clear, it is not a ‘cure’ for anything, it merely helps people to adapt to life with the problems they may have.
CBT is used to treat Anxiety and Depression mainly but can also be used to treat other problems, some of which aren’t even mental health problems. It has it’s advantages; it is a very proactive approach, it can be more effective than medication and it is something that can be applied for the rest of your life. However, equally it has a couple of disadvantages, the first being that it requires the patient to put in all of the effort and actively try, practice and adopt the techniques taught. This can be hard for somebody suffering from a mental health problem if they are lacking motivation and also needs you to set aside a bit of time to do it. The second disadvantage is that it does not find the root cause of the problem which some medical professionals think is the answer to helping those with mental health problems.
I know people that get on very well with CBT and others that do not, however there is no denying the powerful effect it can have on somebody that fully commits to the program. Finding the right way of dealing with your thoughts and behaviour is trial and error, but then again so is life! I said at the beginning of this post that I wasn’t CBT’s biggest fan; I’ve completed another session since I started drafting this blog post and my feelings towards it have altered slightly! It is very slow to get started but the techniques taught in it are amazing and I’m 1000% better at dealing with my problems now than I was!