Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on solving current problems and modifying dysfunctional thinking and behaviors.1 Though originally created as a treatment for depression, CBT has been successfully adapted to a wide array of psychiatric disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Effect of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) on Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The therapist seeks in a variety of ways to produce cognitive change—change in an individual’s thinking and belief system—in order to bring about lasting emotional and behavioral change.
Controlled studies have proven its efficacy in the treatment of various anxiety and depressive disorders. By a wide margin, CBT has more evidence from well-controlled research showing that it works for specified disorders than any other treatment. For example, according to a review article in 2001, approximately 80% of the treatments for specific disorders (for both adults and children) characterized as having research support fall within the CBT class.7 Consequently, CBT predominates among empirically supported treatments for particular disorders.
Side Effects and Warnings
While there are no serious side effects stemming from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT is not for everyone and another type of treatment may work better for different individuals. CBT is also not a quick fix. A therapist is like a personal trainer that advises and encourages - but cannot 'do' it for you. This will take an investment of time and money on the individual’s part. Moreover, if you are feeling low energy, depressed, or anxious, it can be difficult to concentrate and get motivated and CBT relies on the individual engaging with the process, trying new strategies, and completing “homework” in between sessions. You need to have a certain degree of motivation to benefit from CBT. Lastly, to overcome anxiety or any other psychological disturbance, you need to confront it. This may lead you to feel more anxious for a short time.2 However, if you are able to tolerate this, you may benefit from CBT and ultimately feel some relief from your symptoms. A good therapist will pace your sessions. You decide what you do together, so you stay in control and take on what you feel comfortable with.
- Beck, A. T. (1964). Thinking and depression: II. Theory and therapy. Archives of General Psychiatry, 10, 561-571.
- Williams, C. J. (2001). Overcoming depression. London: Arnold.
- Chambless, D. L., & Ollendick, T. H. (2001). Empirically supported psychological interventions: Controversies and evidence. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 685-716.