All Posts Tagged: cognitive therapy

Psychotherapy or Medication – Which Should You Choose?

In today’s world, if you turn on a television, play a game on an electronic device, read a magazine, or listen to the radio, the chances are high that you’ll see or hear an ad for psychotropic medications. Prescriptions for anxiety medication and depression medication are pitched to people so often that the majority of us have at least heard of this option for treating mental illnesses.

As a society, we all want an easy fix to our problems. Ads for psychotropic medications make them sound as if they are an effortless method for treating anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. After all, why spend time on psychotherapy when you can pop a pill and get relief instantly? However, like everything in life, there are compelling reasons to choose one or the other.

Benefits of Psychotherapy

For many people, treatment programs like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psycho-dynamic Psychotherapy, or In-vivo Therapy, have proven to have more lasting results than psychotropic medications. The reason is that these therapies teach you coping skills. They help you identify inaccurate or negative thinking and then give you the necessary tools to challenge and replace these beliefs.

When someone goes through psychotherapy, they learn what triggers their reactions to specific fears, places, or situations. Cognitive therapy and other “talk therapies” help people overcome these triggers so they can have a better quality of life. Moreover, these methods teach skills that are lifelong. This allows the person to not only feel better, but gives them something to fall back on if their stressors return at some point in the future.

Unlike with the potential of some psychotropic medications, psychotherapy is not addictive. Furthermore, some studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be more effective at relieving anxiety and depression than medication.

Benefits of Psychotropic Medications

Depression medications and anxiety medications are among the most prescribed drugs worldwide. Advertisements have taught us to recognize drug names and to request them from our medical professionals. These drugs are seen as a “magic bullet” for mental illnesses. Indeed, the benefit of psychotropic medications is that some people may see a quicker, short term improvement in their symptoms, especially if their case is severe. Medications are generally cheaper than psychotherapy and are often covered under insurance, while therapy is sometimes limited or may not be covered at all.

That being said, there are drawbacks to psychotropic medications. Some of these drugs have very adverse side effects – a fact many people ignore when they see the list of them scrolling rapidly through an advertisement. These medications are often prescribed on a trial-and-error basis, wherein the drugs are changed if the person is not getting the symptom relief they are hoping for. Also, many individuals fear taking anxiety medication or depression medication because of the worry over becoming addicted to them or the fear that their personality may be altered. Additionally, they are concerned that they will never be able to get off the medication in the future because their depression or anxiety will return if they do.

What About a Combination of Therapy and Medication?

Current research has shown that, in many cases, a combination of psychotropic medications and psychotherapy gives patients the best result. Medications can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety more quickly, thus giving the person a chance to improve their symptoms while undergoing psychotherapy at the same time.

Combining these treatments programs can provide improvement in symptoms, teach the skills that will allow you to cope with or change your symptoms, and help you feel better. Furthermore, psychotherapy gives you the tools to cope if symptoms arise again.

Do You Have Questions About Psychotherapy or Psychotropic Medications?

Questions about whether you’ll benefit the most from medication, therapy, or a combination of the two, are best answered by working with a mental health professional. The therapists at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are there to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

 

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Compassion Focused Therapy for Social Anxiety

It’s not unusual for people to get nervous in certain social situations. Preparing to give a speech and meeting a group of people you don’t know are both great examples of situations where it’s perfectly understandable to experience a little anxiety. However, there is a big difference between small amounts of anxiety and social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder develops when those little fears become so intense that you go out of your way to avoid any situations that will trigger them. And, when that avoidance begins to negatively impact your daily life or family it may be time to seek some professional help.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One of the most common treatments for social phobia is cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of systematic desensitization addresses negative patterns and distortions in the way we look at ourselves and the world. There are two main components to this approach:

  • Cognitive therapy examines how your negative thoughts can contribute to your social anxiety.
  • Behavior therapy analyzes the way you behave and react in those situations that trigger your anxiety.

There are three main steps involved in this form of therapy:

  • Identifying your negative thoughts: this can include recognizing what those thoughts include, the specific situations they occur in conjunction with, and recognizing them for the harmful thoughts they are.
  • Challenging your negative thoughts: during this step you’ll question the evidence for your frightening thoughts, weigh the pros and cons associated with them, and conduct experiments to test the validity of these thoughts.
  • Replacing negative thoughts with realistic ones: as you become more adept at recognizing your anxiety-provoking thoughts, you can begin to practice converting those thoughts into positive imaging.

The Compassionate Approach

While cognitive behavioral therapy has become widely recognized as an effective treatment for social anxiety disorder, there are aspects of it that can be difficult for many people. It can be a great challenge to identify positive thoughts or to replace them with realistic ones. Oftentimes people can recognize the benefit of this systematic desensitization approach but understanding the logic doesn’t necessarily make the treatment easier to complete.

This is where compassion focused therapy comes in. People who experience social phobia are apt to be self-critical and filled with thoughts of shame and anger because of how the anxiety affects them. Compassionate-focused therapy helps individuals reverse those thoughts through compassionate engagement. The theory behind this therapy states that we are “at our most flourishing” when we:

  • See evidence that we are cared about and valued
  • Are caring, helping, and valuing others
  • Are mindful and sympathetic of our own feelings

By demonstrating the skills and attributes of compassion, the therapist instils these values in the patient. As a consequence, the patient is aided to develop an internal compassionate relationship with themselves – one that will replace the blaming, condemning and self-critical person they may feel they are.

In other words, by learning to be empathetic and non-judgmental of others it can become easier to give yourself a break, as well. While many might view compassion as a personality trait, the reality is that it is a skill you can be trained in. This therapy helps to foster the attributes of that skill.

 Need More Assistance?

It can be difficult to convert your negative thoughts into a positive mindset when you’re in the midst of social anxiety disorder. If you or someone you know is suffering from social anxiety, seeking professional help can be the most direct path to reclaiming your life.

For more information about compassion-based cognitive behavioral therapy, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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