Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Beating Anxiety with CBT
Updated: Sep 14, 2019
“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them." ― Albert Ellis
I hate it when someone says, "It's just anxiety. Everyone has it." Hearing that makes me feel so frustrated. Obviously, if that person struggled with anxiety and depression on a daily basis he/she wouldn't be saying that.
Anxiety that's experienced continuously is debilitating. It can be challenging mentally creating thoughts of fear, doubt, worry, and paranoia. It takes a toll on the body creating muscle tension, joint pain, rapid heart beating, shakiness, and shortness of breath.
In fall of 2017, I was experiencing these symptoms severely. I decided to see a psychiatrist and get help. She diagnosed me with General Anxiety Disorder (G.A.D.), and recommended medication (Lexapro) and therapy - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (C.B.T.). She prescribed the medication, and referred me to a psychologist. The medication helped, but CBT with the psychologist was life changing.
What is CBT?
"The premise is simple: our thoughts influence our feelings which influence our actions. If we have negative, unrealistic thoughts we tend to feel depressed and/or anxious and then behave in a way that reinforces our negative thoughts.
Here is an example: John applies for a job and doesn’t get it.
His negative thought is: No one is ever going to hire me. He feels depressed and his action is he quits looking for a job.
Alternatively, he could have a more realistic, positive thought about the situation. John could think I know there were a lot of people who applied for the job, maybe I just wasn’t the right fit.
This thought produces the feeling of disappointment (but not depression) and his action is he continues his job search.
CBT believes that If we can identify our negative thoughts and learn to think more realistically we can improve our depression and anxiety." - Moving Forward Counseling
How it Helped Me
CBT helped me realize that I am responsible for my own feelings. My feelings are produced by my thoughts, in which I can control. There are many different ways to perceive a situation. If I am perceiving a situation negatively, where it makes me feel anxious or depressed, I have the power to recognize the thought and challenge it. I can challenge it by thinking other more realistic/rational thoughts that are also ways to perceive the situation. This does takes some practice and getting used to.
I went through CBT for several months in San Jose, Ca. I ended therapy because I accomplished the number one goal I was doing it for; gaining the confidence to become a T.V. reporter. I was unsure if it was the career path I wanted to take because my thoughts about it would make me feel so anxious. But then my thoughts changed throughout treatment and I became more confident in my decision until there was no doubt in my mind that reporting was the path I wanted to take.
I then moved to Northern Wisconsin to pursue my dream. I not only became a reporter, but a producer who has her own T.V. show, which is still mind boggling for me. Having my own T.V. show has always been just a dream. Now I live it day in and day out, and get paid to do it.
My anxiety returned early on when starting the new job and I wasn't implementing the tools I learned in CBT to manage. I relapsed for months until I finally said no more. I found a new psychiatrist and a psychologist, and began treatment once again.
New medications (especially Zoloft) have been working better than the old. And the second round of CBT therapy quickly helped me become much more calm, independent, and empowered. I know that this CBT is working more quickly and more powerfully because I've already have experience with it. CBT is considered a shorter term of therapy because once a person understand the tools of it, he/she can utilize it without help from their psychologist. But going back to therapy is always an option in the event of a relapse like mine. I'm now seeing my psychologist every other 2 or 3 weeks after a few months of weekly treatment. Soon I won't be seeing her at all. I have my power back now and I have the tools to manage.