These days over 18% of US adults are living with an anxiety disorder. For many people living with chronic anxiety, experiencing a daily, significant and ongoing sense of fear or anxiety can lead to restlessness, panic attacks, isolation, poor sleep, and physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, body aches, stomach pain, and more. These and a host of other symptoms can be debilitating and may significantly decrease the sufferer’s quality of life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is usually the go-to solution for anxiety treatment. However, for some patients with persistent and unmanageable symptoms, the classic CBT focus on changing thoughts and behavioral patterns isn’t enough to establish significant breakthroughs. Part of the problem with utilizing CBT for anxiety disorders is that this type of therapy doesn’t offer an emphasis on acceptance - a key tenant of solving persistent anxiety and fear - and can instead become invalidating.
This is where DBT has made a profound and notable difference in anxiety treatment. Dialectical Behavior Therapy focuses on acknowledging and supporting the patient’s reality, and on creating coping mechanisms rooted in mindfulness (living in the moment). Since most anxiety boils down to focusing on the future or on situations, obstacles, relationships, and factors outside of our control, DBT can make a significant difference through its use of acceptance-based behavior therapies (ABBTs).
DBT focuses on dialectical thinking - which essentially means the ability to embrace two ideas or truths that might seem contradictory to each other; in this case, the concept of acceptance and change. The ability to accept your reality and live in the moment, combined with the willingness to manifest change for the better, is the crux of DBT treatment.
The DBT process covers a series of modules, including two that focus on acceptance, and two that focus on change:
Individuals working through DBT treatment will spend time covering each module, and in some cases will re-work a module in its entirety, depending on the severity and specificity of their symptoms.
More and more literature is coming out about the effectiveness of DBT for anxiety therapy. For many individuals with anxiety disorders, their anxiety can be linked directly to extreme fear along with escalated emotions that may or may not fit the seriousness of the situation. For instance, when there is no immediate threat to their life, but they live in fear of dying. DBT helps individuals work through skills related to emotional and cognitive coping, in order to improve emotional regulation and processing. For those struggling with anxiety, DBT can provide relief from intense feelings, help them to modify unhelpful behaviors, and reduce their overall symptoms. The end goal of DBT for anxiety is to help patients to manage the worries, ruminations, panic attacks, and other symptoms that can be crippling in everyday life.
Treating anxiety symptoms through DBT is still processed within the traditional DBT modules of Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotional Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness.
In summary, DBT treatment is an understandably powerful tool for those working through anxiety disorders and the daily challenges of living with anxiety. If you’re interested in pursuing DBT treatment for anxiety, you can join an online anxiety therapy group today and get started on your journey to a healthier and happier future.