Mental health disorders alter mood, brain chemicals, lifestyle, and behavior. Moreover, they occur frequently in today’s world, and several people suffer from these illnesses. According to WHO, one in every eight people suffers from a mental health issue. Furthermore, the most frequent mental health issues are depression and anxiety.
Recently, behavioral therapies have come into focus as practical techniques to treat mental health illnesses. Behavioral therapy is a psychological treatment that addresses a range of mental disorders. It belongs to the behaviorist school of thought, which is based on the premise that behavior is learned and malleable. Such therapies focus on your behavior and identify or alter unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors.
According to Health line, behavior therapy can treat depression, anxiety, panic disorders, ADHD, OCD, substance use, and phobias.
Behavioral therapies are considered action-based and highly focused. It suggests that old learning patterns are easily replaceable with new, more effective ones. If you want to know more about how behavioral therapies work for mental disorders, keep reading.
- Substance Abuse:
Substance abuse is the uncontrolled use of drugs, prescription medications, or alcohol regardless of its harmful effects on the body. It is recognized as a brain disorder where you become dependent on a specific chemical, and it begins to interfere in every sphere of your life.
Extreme mental, physical and emotional problems like deep psychosis, chronic depression, and guilt are some of the reasons for substance and drug abuse. Even when you attempt to stop using alcohol, drugs, and medications, it leads to physiological withdrawal issues prompted by your inability to stop consuming the substance because your mind and body have become dependent upon it.
Rehabilitation, detox treatment, and behavioral therapy are some options for alcohol and drug abuse victims. Medical facilities and rehabilitation centers like the Palm Beach Institute provide therapy using a range of techniques, including behavioral therapy, to help heal individuals suffering from substance use disorder.
- Anxiety Disorder:
Anxiety is the body’s response to unpleasant, stressful, or dangerous situations. Anxious individuals exhibit feelings of discomfort, distress, and dread before or after an event. A small amount of anxiety is needed to remain focused, alert, and aware of the situation. However, uncontrollable feelings of fear (emotional response to current threat) and anxiety (worrying about the future) are symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorder is a condition in which fear and dread compromise your ability to function in your day-to-day life. Increased heart rate, excessive sweating, a tendency to overreact to emotional triggers, and an inability to control your responses in a situation are some signs you are suffering from an anxiety disorder.
According to Psychology Today, the first line of treatment for anxiety includes cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps patients to identify their triggers and learn to manage them. Hence, cognitive behavioral therapy in combination with medications is the preferred treatment for anxiety.
- Bipolar disorder:
Bipolar disorder is a psychological disorder that causes severe mood swings, including extreme emotional highs and lows. The high mood states are called mania, and the low mood states are called depression. Individuals with bipolar disorder have episodes of these high and low mood states.
According to Mayo Clinic, there are several types of bipolar disorders like bipolar disorder 1, bipolar disorder 2, cyclothymic disorders, and Cushing’s disease or stroke.
Bipolar does not heal without treatment. According to Mayo Clinic, psychotherapy and mood-stabilizing medications are the two main treatment options for bipolar disorder patients.
Depression is a mental disorder that causes numerous emotional, mental, and physical issues. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of depression or major depressive disorder include constant sadness, angry outbursts, sleep disturbances, slowed thinking and concentration, suicidal thoughts, guilt, and loss of interest in day-to-day activities.
Depression occurs frequently and affects thousands of people worldwide. According to WHO, 3.8% of people in the world suffer from depression, including 5.0% of adults and 5.7% of older individuals (60+)
Treatments of depression offered by health care professionals include behavioral activation, interpersonal psychotherapy, CBT, or medications like serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants.
- Eating disorders:
Eating disorders are a group of psychological illnesses that affect your eating habits. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Diagnostics, eating disorders are complex illnesses that can impair health and social behavior. According to a study by Harvard University, approximately 28 million Americans have experienced an eating disorder in their lives.
Prompted by an obsessive concern with weight, body shape, and food, people with eating disorders either place excessive restrictions on the food or go on binge eating sprees and then exhibit debilitating reactionary behaviors and opt for vomiting or overexercising. There are various eating disorders like bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, restrictive food intake disorder, and other unspecified feeding and eating disorders.
According to Very Well Mind, eating disorders have the highest mortality rates, and they cause emotional distress and medical complications that require therapy to cure.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental and behavioral dysfunction that causes an individual to feel and perform certain activities repeatedly, for example, handwashing. These activities become obsessions, and these compulsions interfere with normal day-to-day activities causing distress.
According to Mayo Clinic, obsessive-compulsive disorder revolves around fear and anxiety, usually related to fear of contamination and dirt, keeping stuff in order or symmetry, difficulty tolerating uncertainty, violent or destructive thoughts, and unappealing thoughts of aggression, sex, or religion.
Moreover, OCD compulsions also have particular themes. Compulsions center around washing, counting, reassurance, orderliness, and following a strict routine. Furthermore, your mind fabricates these compulsions to lessen your anxiety about a specific obsessive thought.
OCD begins in teenage and can worsen because of extreme stress. According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration, cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants can effectively treat OCD.
- Panic disorders:
Panic disorders are a set of mental illnesses that cause sudden, recurrent and severe panic attacks. Panic disorders occur due to overwhelming fear when there is no known cause. Panic attacks occur in other anxiety disorders, and if you have four or more panic attacks, you might have a panic disorder.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, panic disorders have a genetic link and occur in childhood, teenagers, or early adulthood. Moreover, women are more susceptible to it than men. The symptoms of panic disorder are shortness of breath, sweating, numbness, feeling of losing control or going mad, nausea, choking, and shivering.
According to NHS, treatment for panic disorders is talking therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and anti-anxiety drugs.
- Post-traumatic stress disorders:
Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs after a traumatic event, and recollection of those memories or flashbacks can cause recurrent feelings of anxiety and avoidance of similar situations.
According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of PTSD include nightmares or dreams about the trauma, severe emotional distress, avoiding people linked to the event, memory issues, hopelessness, disconnecting from family, numbness, and trouble expressing positive emotions.
The intensity of the condition can increase or decrease over time. However, reliving the same situation can make it worse. If you have disturbing thoughts about the traumatic event altering your quality of life, consult a doctor or mental health professional.
You can also contact 911 or the National helpline for Mental Health to answer your queries or emergencies.
Behavioral therapies include several techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy used to treat mental health disorders. The treatment helps you identify several triggers that affect your behavior and changes the behavior that causes you pain. Your therapist will help you find efficient ways to work through the problems and focus on the positive side to help restore balance in your life.