Camila Cabello Opening Up About OCD Is a Big Deal — Here’s Why

taking care of their minds and bodies in 2018.

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Earlier this month, singer Camila Cabello opened up to the world about living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). “If I get really stressed thinking about something, I’ll start to have the same thought over and over again, and no matter how many times I get to the resolution, I feel like something bad is about to happen if I don’t keep thinking about it,” the “Havana” singer told Cosmopolitan UKA few days later, Stranger Things and Riverdale actress Shannon Purser went public with her own struggle with OCD and suicidal ideation.

While many people across North America still seem to have an idea or preconceived notion of what obsessive-compulsive disorder is, there still seem to be a lot of misconceptions about what the disorder actually entails. This is why is it so important when stars like Cabello and Purser open up to the media about living with the disorder. 

Currently, it is estimated that about one to two percent of the population has OCD or will have it at some point in their lives. When hugely popular and public figures talk about their experience with a mental health disorder, we work towards breaking down the stigma and shame that surrounds such disorders. We also work toward advancing true and accurate representations of what conditions like OCD truly look like.

anyone in the mood for some….. #sangriawine? @pharrell

A post shared by camila (@camila_cabello) on May 16, 2018 at 2:43pm PDT

The invisible, cognitive aspects of OCD go far beyond what many have stereotyped as the “hand washing” mental illness. An obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which time people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).

While it can present differently in each person, obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t just about the compulsive behaviors that may first come to mind (like hand washing); life-consuming obsessive thoughts can be a debilitating experience for sufferers. According to the Canadian Psychological Association, over 90 percent of people with clinical OCD have both obsessions and compulsions, with 25 to 50 percent reporting multiple obsessions. In fact, OCD is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability, worldwide, for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age.

If we want to undo misunderstanding and continue to support people who have been diagnosed, we need to know the best way to support them. The first thing we can do is learn how to change our language surrounding the OCD.

First and foremost, we need to stop making quirky statements about how we feel “so OCD” whenever we’re doing things like being organized or clean. These types of statements make those who are living with the disorder feel like their experiences are not valid. You should stop using “OCD” as a catch-all term to describe “obsessive” behaviors. Also, if someone shares with you that they do have OCD, maybe, just maybe, don’t ask if they wash their hands a lot. It’s likely, not the time and not the best way to support your friend.

📸: @hannahshlapak

A post shared by Shannon Purser (@shannonpurser) on Mar 31, 2018 at 9:43pm PDT

Let’s hope that, with more and more celebrities stepping forward, we can help change the narrative and better help change experiences for those around the country — and the world — who are living and dealing with OCD.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty)

Lily Bailey’s Because We Are Bad Made Me Rethink OCD

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Tailored To Anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy programs are easily quantifiable and testable, and have been the subject of numerous empirical researches which have proven the effectivity of the programs in resolving various psychological disorders which includes trauma related disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, depression, and anxiety. There are over 40 studies in the instance of youth anxiety showing the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy.

 

Anxiety disorders are a grouping of mental disorders associated with excessive worry or fear. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of MEntal Disorder lists 11 types: selective mutism; specific phobia; substance induced anxiety; generalized anxiety; unspecified anxiety disorder; social anxiety; agoraphobia; panic disorder; specified anxiety disorder; separation anxiety; and anxiety due to another medical condition.

 

Common characteristics of all anxiety disorders include negative thought process and poor means of social adaptations, restlessness, severe worry or fear, inability to control worry or fear, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, and irritability; these symptoms result in problems in occupational and social functioning.

 

Cognitive behavioral therapy programs involve a well defined knowledge of patient condition which includes full medical and psychological history, comorbidities, psychological evaluation, and behavioral observations. CBT principle is that negative thoughts and behaviors affect emotions, and are products of irrational thinking and/or beliefs. Cognitive behavioral therapy programs focus on helping patients define and understand the condition of anxiety, followed by therapeutic sessions designed to focus on helping patients to dispute irrational thoughts and/or beliefs using various techniques such as mediation, mindfulness based therapy, and cognitive restructuring. Patients are taught appropriate means in which they can better handle their condition, reducing negativity, reducing resolution of irrational thoughts and/or beliefs using these techniques, many studies have shown these techniques to directly affect patient emotions and behavior. New thought process are strengthened through adaptive measures which are inculcated in patients during cognitive behavioral therapy programs. 

 

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven by many researchers to be an effective tool in the treatment of anxiety. Effectiveness of the psychotherapy using various inclusion criteria support prior empirical evidences of its efficacy in the treatment of anxiety. Specific anxiety disorders, and generalized anxiety have been found to be highly treatable using cognitive behavioral therapy programs, with there being ample evidence using multiple randomized control trials to support successfulness. Good therapeutic relationship, cognitive restructuring, comprehensive assessment, and skills training are helpful in achievement of greater success during CBT.

 

My intrusive sexual thoughts were actually pure OCD

Rose Cartwright was 15 when a series of disturbing thoughts suddenly began flashing through her head.

“I started getting intrusive thoughts that maybe I had abused a child, or that I could.”

They were accompanied by flashing mental images of it happening. “I was still a child myself, a virgin and extremely naive, and seeing things that were anathema. It was a nightmare.”

She had no idea these repetitive thoughts, doubts and mental images were a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) referred to as ‘pure-O’ or ‘pure-OCD’.

The more she desperately tried to banish the thoughts from her mind, the more uncontrollable they became.

What is Pure OCD?

OCD is an anxiety disorder which has two main components: obsessions and compulsions, says Rachel Boyd, Information Manager at the mental health charity Mind.

“Pure O stands for ‘purely obsessional’. Unlike OCD, people can experience distressing intrusive thoughts but there are no external signs of compulsions, such as checking or hand-washing. If you have Pure O you will still experience mental compulsions, but you might not be aware of them. Because they are not as obvious as physical compulsions it can sometimes be difficult to define exactly what these compulsions are.”

‘I would delve around looking for clues as to whether or not what my thoughts were accusing me of were true’

Research suggests 1.3 per cent of the population have OCD, according to Mind. But a lack of awareness deterred Cartwright from telling anyone about what she was experiencing. “I thought I would go to prison if I told anybody.”

Cartwright, a writer and creative director based in London, became obsessed with trying to understand where the thoughts were coming from. “I’m not religious but I would repeatedly ask for forgiveness for my ‘sins’,” she recalls. “I would ruminate and delve around looking for clues as to whether or not what my thoughts were accusing me of were true.”

Am I gay?

Doctorsprescribed talking therapies and antidepressants (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The theme of her intrusive thoughts shifted as she grew older, taking the form of more general sexual thoughts. Now she began seeing mental images of people naked: friends sat across from her in the pub, uni lecturers in class, prospective bosses interviewing her for jobs.

She began to obsessively doubt herself and question her identity. “Maybe I’m gay? Maybe I’m bisexual? Maybe I don’t really want to be with the men I’m with?” The more she compulsively soul-searched for reasons behind these thoughts, the more overbearing they became, until her whole life was consumed by them.

“I became very severely depressed and highly anxious,” she says. “I started self-harming. I was bulimic. I desperately wanted to be loved by men, but I thought I can’t without knowing who I am.”

Cartwright struggled to articulate all of this to doctors, who prescribed talking therapies and antidepressants, treatments which were unsuccessful.

‘Repetitive intrusive thoughts were a hallmark of OCD, and actually, sexual scenes and violent scenes within that were extremely common’

But by 27, Cartwright had managed to tentatively tell a boyfriend what was happening to her. After conducting her own extensive research and a decade blighted by intrusive thoughts, she had what she calls her “eureka moment”.

“I discovered repetitive intrusive thoughts were a hallmark of OCD, and actually, sexual scenes and violent scenes within that were extremely common. This was exactly describing my life. From that point I was able to start telling doctors exactly what I thought was going on.”

Exposure prevention therapy

‘Exposure therapy tried to get me to embrace the doubt’ (Pixabay)

She eventually chose to undergo exposure and response prevention therapy [ERP], deciding to pay privately for treatment with an OCD specialist based in New York. “I was never offered that on the NHS. It is available, and I believe things are getting better all the time. But it’s a postcode lottery.”

ERP involves gradually exposing the person to their obsessive theme to get them to tolerate their presence instead of compulsively trying to escape them. According to Ms Boyd, ERP works by helping you confront your obsessions and resist the urge to carry out compulsions.“It is a recommended treatment for OCD, but it will work well for some people and not as well for others.”

‘I was taught to look at materials and just accept whatever emotions and anxiety that comes up when I do’

Exposure therapy tried to get her to embrace her self-doubts, says Cartwright. “When I had an intrusive thought about a woman, maybe when I was walking down a street and thinking about her breasts or thinking about having sex with her, instead of giving into the temptation to compulsively ruminate about what that meant, I would just have to go – ‘Maybe I’m attracted to her? Maybe I don’t want to be with my boyfriend?”

These ideas did not sit well with her – “I really did want to be with my boyfriend and would rather not be thinking about naked women. But resisting the temptation to run away from it took away some of its power.”

The therapy also saw her engaging with structured exposures to sexually explicit and pornographic content. “I was taught to look at materials and just accept whatever emotions and anxiety that comes up when I do.”

Bowled over by support

The publication of her story in a piece for The Guardian in 2013 under the pen name Rose Bretécher marked the first time her family had any idea of what she had been experiencing. Her piece was shocking, but she was bowled over by their support. The article, read more than 180,000 online in two days, caused “a bit of a stir”. People found her online almost immediately, telling her how they too were secretly experiencing what she had described. “I’ve been getting messages from people ever since, and that was five years ago.”

‘I don’t have these big identity questions that I once had. I just let them be there’

“Experiencing OCD can be very lonely and frightening,” says Ms Boyd. “Asking for help is one of the most important things to do. Speak to someone you know and trust – such as a friend or family member – or go to your GP, who can talk you through the support that’s available.”

Cartwright wrote a crowd-funded book on her experiences, Pure, which is now the subject of a six-part Channel 4 drama, due to air in autumn. She hopes this will create more awareness of this kind of OCD. “I still have intrusive thoughts, intrusive doubts, intrusive mental images, but they don’t ruffle my feathers like they used to because I don’t engage compulsively with them,” she says. “I don’t have these big identity questions that I once had. I just let them be there.”

Pure by Rose Bretécher is available for £8.99 here

Speaking to your GP about mental health for the first time can seem daunting, so Mind has produced a guide called ‘Find the Words’ to help you prepare for your appointment. It is available here. Visit Mind’s website for more information or call 0300 123 3393.

More from i

Agoraphobia left me trapped inside my home for years until I confronted my fears step by step

I kept my depression hidden until I was 60 – now I’ve accepted it, I’m much stronger

I spent five days at a sanctuary for the suicidal, and it was life-changing

Social Anxiety Doesn’t Get The Attention It Deserves

As a result of such stigmas, the socially anxious are prone to self-medicating in an attempt to face their fears, says Johnson. But seeking professional help from a qualified therapist who is familiar with the current research-based treatments can go a long way in alleviating the symptoms. Such therapies include cognitive behavior therapy, commitment therapy and exposure therapy. In-person support groups and online forums, like the Anxiety Tribe Group, can be beneficial.

LISTEN | Mshoza opens up about her obsessive-compulsive disorder

Mshoza said she was lucky in that she decided to write out her goals whenever she felt the urge to write in her books.

“I wrote my dreams, my future. I can’t say that I predicted because I wrote things that I was going to do, not things that I wished. It started when I was young, so as I grew up, I grew up doing the same thing and my mom used to say, ‘you need to see a doctor, there’s something wrong with you.”

Mshoza said when she was young she would write about how big of a superstar she would be. She said before she knew that she was constantly affirming her dreams through her writing, a result of her OCD, she was already a child star.

Since then Mshoza has released chart topping songs and has equally been at the centre of controversy, with everything from skin bleaching to abusive relationships. Soon after her mother died last year, she revealed that she was struggling with depression.

9 Things You Didn’t Know Anxiety Can Look Like – Bustle

As someone who has severe gastrointestinal issues, when I experience severe anxiety, it first pops up in my digestive tract: I’ll encounter acid reflux, heartburn, and unexpected vomiting. It will feel like my body is fighting against me, but in many ways, it’s my stomach’s way of telling me to slow down and address my mental health. And although I loathe the feeling that follows, I am grateful for this warning sign.

It’s not the way anxiety is portrayed on television and in film — uncontrollable shaking, shortness of breath, fainting, etc. — and I know now that many people who struggle with their mental health can exhibit their internal mindset in varying, subtly external ways. Anxiety is a subjective experience: there is no one-size-fits-all depiction.

According to a 2013 study by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 40 million American adults struggle with some form of an anxiety disorder. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to look out for indications of anxiety, past just a racing heart or heightened anticipation, so that we can help both ourselves and those we care for call attention to mental health.

Here are some of the different ways that that anxiety can manifest itself — so the next you or a loved one is grappling with your mental health, you can address it head on.

1Eating Disorders

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

When anxiety feels like an uncontrollable, heavy burden that weighs them down, some may turn to what they can control instead: their bodies. According to a 2016 study by the Anxiety And Depression Association of America, eating disorders commonly co-concur with anxiety disorders, and can make symptoms much worse.

This can manifest in many different ways, from an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, to an obsession with healthy food and exercise. They’re all are harmful ways of coping with and managing crippling anxiety. It is crucial that those struggling with both anxiety and an ED get treated for not just one, but both.

2Sleep Problems

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Severe anxiety can trigger a plethora of sleep problems, from insomnia or narcolepsy, to sleep walking or lucid dreaming. “One of the most common signs and symptoms of anxiety are what we call parasomnias — problems sleeping,” Dr. Gary Brown, licensed psychotherapist, tells Bustle. “When we feel anxious, it can be difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and we can also have disturbed sleep in the form of nightmares and even night terrors. As upsetting as this can be, these are upsetting but perfectly normal responses to anxiety.”

3Excessive Substance Consumption

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Binge drinking, or even popping prescription medication, can be telltale signs that someone is struggling with the larger issue of anxiety or depression.

“Feelings of anxiety can be so painful that we can be tempted to “numb the pain” by self-medicating with alcohol, prescription and non-prescription medications, and street drugs,” Dr. Brown says. “Whenever we self-medicate, we run the risk of creating an even bigger second problem of substance abuse on top of the anxiety that we feel.”

4Posting A Lot On Social Media

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

If someone starts to become hyperactive on social media platforms, it could be a sign that they are struggling with anxiety. According to a 2017 study published in Society for Consumer Psychology, many people with anxiety disorders have a paradoxical need to reach out to others, and a fear of ‘bothering’ another person. Social media gives them the outlet they desire without the threat of face-to-face confrontation.

5The Need To Control Things

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Sometimes when people try to control their anxiety, it can manifest as a form of OCD. “One of the underlying feelings associated with anxiety is fear that there are things in our life that we can’t control,” Dr. Brown says. “The need to reassert control is why many people develop obsessive compulsive disorder as a way to reestablish and maintain control in our lives. OCD is often expressed in doing the same things, compulsively, and repetitively to the point of trying to make everything orderly and perfect.”

6Nervous Ticks Like Itching, Picking, Or Biting

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Itching compulsively, picking at scabs, or biting nails are extremely common, physical ways of channeling one’s anxiety into a physical outlet. “Anxiety can be experienced in any number of ways, as it relates to severity,” Dr. Brown says. “It’s typically a result of the cumulative stressors that all of us can experience during certain phases of our lives. It can be the result of stressors at work, school, home, or other situations we encounter in our life.”

7Developing An Unexplained Phobia

Ashley Batz for Bustle

Developing a phobia late in life that seems somewhat random or unexplained can be linked to an unspoken fear or underlying anxiety. “Some of the more common phobias include fear of flying, fear of heights, fear of being trapped in a confined space, fear of crowds, and numerous other phobias,” Dr. Brown says.

8Avoiding Social Situations

Ashley Batz for Bustle

If you find yourself more isolated than usual, avoiding all forms of social interaction, and only engaging when with the people in your life when forced, this could be a sign of a larger anxiety disorder. “Many people who suffer from anxiety, are chronically afraid of social situations because they fear being judged, ridiculed, and rejected by others,” Dr. Brown says. “Social Anxiety Disorder is one of the more painful ways that anxiety can manifest.”

9Problems Digesting Food

Ashley Batz for Bustle

According to a recent study by Harvard Health, the gastrointestinal tract is heavily tied to emotion, and anxiety, depression, anger, and more, can all trigger gut problems. This can range from temporary diarrhea or acid reflux, to chronic pain and illness, like IBS or Gastroparesis.

If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other form of mental illness, know that you are not alone. Just because your experience of anxiety doesn’t look like somebody else’s, it doesn’t make it by any means illegitimate. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, because your mental health is important and your feelings are valid.

The Proven Benefits of CBD

While marijuana has been legalized in many states including California, allowing for recreational use, the plant is still the center of heated political debate. While there has long been concern about the proposed dangers of marijuana abuse, research has begun to prove otherwise. One particular compound found in the cannabis plant, CBD, or cannabidiol, has been shown to be extremely useful in treating a variety of diseases and effectively alleviating pain. Unlike THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, CBD is non-psychoactive, making it a promising tool for those seeking a natural remedy. Here are some the proven benefits of CBD.

CBD is known for being one of the most effective natural pain relievers, and is a much safer alternative to traditional opioids. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD was effective in suppressing chronic pain without causing a developed tolerance in those that take it. CBD has been shown to reduce chronic pain in individuals with debilitating diseases by about 50-70%.

Studies have shown that CBD is particularly effective in reducing anxiety. CBD has been proven to be effective in treating patients who suffer from social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2011 study concluded that patients suffering from generalized social anxiety disorders experienced a reduction in anxiety, cognitive impairment, and speech discomfort when being given a small dose of CBD.

Those who suffer from epilepsy often have to try out a wide range of anti-epileptic drugs before finding an effective one. However, CBD has been seen to be effective in treating seizures and other neurological disorders. While safety data on cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in children is lacking, parents of treatment-resistant epileptic children are using it as treatment. In a survey conducted by Stanford University, 80% of parents reported a reduction in seizure frequency in their treatment-resistant epileptic child, while 11% reported complete seizure freedom. 

Cannabis has been shown to have promising effects in fighting cancer, by inhibiting the growth of tumors and reducing the potency of cancer cells. Since CBD is a non-toxic compound, it can be used for prolonged treatment, something that is rare among cancer treatment drugs. Studies have shown that it can also be effective in stopping the spread of lung and colon cancer, along with being used to treat leukemia.

While cannabis has been used for centuries as a suppressant for nausea and vomiting, CBD can be used without getting the psychoactive effects of THC to reduce nausea. Low doses of CBD have been effective in treating cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, reducing the common side effects of extreme nausea and vomiting.

Chronic inflammation is a major problem in modern society, which can lead to a variety of non-infectious disease including heart disease and Alzheimer’s. While leading a healthy lifestyle can combat chronic inflammation, CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation, and is an effective alternative for those are not capable of being active and exercise daily.

CBD can be taken in a variety of ways such as oil capsules, topical ointments, spray, or even edible candies. Despite the continued debate of the legality and abuse potential of the chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, the time is now to recognize the many important health benefits that can be utilized from it.

Anxiety vs. fear, shame vs. guilt, obsession vs. compulsion and other frequently confused psychology terms

“Negative reinforcement” versus “punishment.” This distinction is familiar to every introductory psychology student, who knows (or at least learned) that negative reinforcement, which involves the withdrawal of a stimulus, increases the likelihood of a previous behavior, whereas punishment, which involves the presentation of a stimulus, decreases the likelihood of a previous behavior. Nevertheless, this fact has not prevented the misuse of these terms in numerous popular sources and even television shows, including The Big Bang Theory not to mention their ubiquitous confusion by generations of undergraduate psychology students. For example, in a news story entitled “British Soccer Players Get Negative Reinforcement,” the reporter described a policy whereby members of a British soccer team were forced to drive around in an old, ugly car for a week following a disappointing showing in a game. In fact, the team management was almost surely punishing, not negatively reinforcing, its poorly performing players. It probably goes without saying that the phrase “punishing reinforcer” is a whopping oxymoron, at least in behavioral lingo.

“Prejudice” versus “discrimination.” Prejudice refers to a belief, whereas discrimination refers to an overt behavior. Specifically, prejudice describes a propensity to “prejudge” others, that is, to arrive at a premature negative judgment of them based on their membership in one or more categories (e.g., African-American, Jew, obese, Republican). In contrast, discrimination refers to the act of treating others poorly, such as insulting them, according them fewer resources, or deciding not to hire them, as a function of their membership in one or more categories.

“Anxiety” versus “fear.” Numerous authors use these terms interchangeably. For example, elected to discuss anxiety and fear synonymously “because they are physiologically indistinguishable.” Nevertheless, a consistent body of literature demonstrates that measures of anxiety and fear are weakly or best moderately correlated and display different psychological and physiological correlates. For example, in the brain, anxiety tends to be left lateralized, whereas fear tends to be right lateralized. The bulk of the research literature further suggests that anxiety is associated with negative affect in the presence of an ambiguous and potentially avoidable threat, whereas fear is associated with negative affect in the presence of an imminent and largely unavoidable threat. Moreover, anxiety tends to persist even after threat dissipates, whereas fear tends to diminish or disappear after threat dissipates. 

“Shame” versus “guilt.” Virtually, all scholars concur that shame and guilt differ, although they have not always agreed on the nature of this difference. Most research suggests that shame reflects a global negative evaluation of the self-following a problematic or unethical behavior (“I am bad”), whereas guilt reflects a more specific negative evaluation of this behavior (“I did a bad thing”). In addition, some research suggests that shame tends to be related to avoidance behaviors, whereas guilt tends to be related to approach behaviors, which are intended to redress the harms generated by the action. 

“Obsession” versus “compulsion.” As the latest edition of the [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] notes, obsessions are “recurrent and persistent thoughts urges or images that are experienced as intrusive or unwanted.” In contrast, compulsions are “repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.” For example, recurrent thoughts of potential contamination are obsessions, whereas recurrent handwashing intended to neutralize or reduce the frequency of these thoughts are compulsions. Obsessions are anxiety producing, whereas compulsions are anxiety reducing, at least in the short term.

Envy” versus “jealousy.” These terms are so frequently confused in popular parlance (e.g., “I’m jealous that you’re going to Hawaii next week!”) that few people are aware that they differ. Nonetheless, the distinction between them is typically straightforward: Envy involves two people, whereas jealousy involves three or more people. For example, the negative emotion a person might experience upon learning that an academic colleague had received a long-sought-after Nobel Prize is envy. In contrast, the negative emotion that this person might experience upon learning that her colleague was invited to a one-on-one dinner by this Nobel Prize winner is jealousy. Hence, you are envious, not jealous, that your friend is headed to Hawaii next week.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety – News

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that combines cognitive and behavioral principles for treating various psychological disorders.

Credit: BlurryMe/Shutterstock.com

A typical CBT program will run for 12 to 15 weeks and is considered a short-term treatment. CBT is developed under the influence of contemporary psychologists Albert Ellis, Aaron and Judith Beck, and Donald Meichenbaum.

These psychotherapists have, over the years, developed their own, specific cognitive behavioral therapy techniques (e.g. Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Therapy) that are widely-used today.

Because the CBT program is easily quantifiable and testable, it has been the subject of many empirical researches. These studies have proven the effectivity of the psychotherapy in successfully resolving various psychological disorders including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and trauma-related disorders. For instance, in the field of youth and adolescent anxiety, over 40 studies have attested the effectiveness of CBT.

Characteristics of anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are a cluster of mental disorders associated with excessive fear or worry. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-5) lists down 11 types of conditions: separation anxiety, selective mutism, specific phobia, social anxiety, panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, and substance-induced anxiety, anxiety due to another medical condition, other specified anxiety disorder, and unspecified anxiety disorder.

The common features or characteristics of all anxiety disorders include severe fear or worry, inability to control such fear, restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, and difficulty in concentration. These symptoms may bring about problems in social and occupational functioning.

Because anxiety disorders are also characterized by negative thought processes and poor means of social adaptations, they have been the subject of many studies involving the use of CBT techniques.

Using CBT to treat anxiety

Like any other psychotherapy, CBT always involves a well-defined knowledge of the patient’s condition, including medical and psychological history, behavioral observations, comorbidities, and psychological evaluation.

The principle of CBT is that negative behavior, thoughts, and affect (emotions) are the products of irrational thinking and beliefs. Therefore, supporters of CBT and psychotherapists focusing their practice on such therapeutic technique describe anxiety disorders as mental conditions produced by irrational thinking and inappropriate ways of coping.

As such, CBT for anxiety initially focuses on helping patients defining and understanding their condition. This is followed by a stream of therapeutic sessions focusing on helping the patient disputing irrational thoughts and beliefs by various techniques, such as cognitive restructuring, mediation, and mindfulness-based therapy.

Patients are taught appropriate means of handling their condition. Reducing the resolution of irrational thoughts and beliefs with these techniques has shown to directly affect the patient’s behavior and emotions. The new thought process is strengthened by adaptive measures that are also inculcated in the patient during therapy.

A particular feature of CBT is the use of assignments or home works. Other psychotherapies are limited to clinic-based treatments; but, CBT aims to further facilitate the positive behavior and cognitive change through home-based exercises.    

Effectivity of CBT in treating anxiety

CBT has been proven by various researches as an effective tool in treating anxiety. Studies conducted to test the effectiveness of the psychotherapy using various inclusion criteria—including age group, demography, case severity, and method—support prior empirical evidences of CBT efficacy in treating anxiety.

For instance, various studies on youth anxiety have revealed positive results. Specific anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety, have been found to be treatable using CBT, as evidence by multiple randomized control trials.

Studies also show that the development of a good therapeutic relationship, comprehensive assessment, cognitive restructuring, and skills training are helpful in achieving greater success during CBT.

Sources:

Further Reading

  • What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
  • Fibromyalgia and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

All Leaders Have Anxiety. Here’s How the Best Ones Deal With It

On the HBO series Silicon Valley, startup CEO Richard Hendricks vomits a lot. He throws up in a trashcan after fielding an acquisition offer from a predatory competitor, and again when asked to deliver an inspirational speech before 50 hostile programmers.

After one such episode, Hendricks visits a health clinic. “It was just a garden-variety panic attack,” the doctor tells him. “Welcome to Silicon Valley. We see people like you all the time.”

It’s no surprise that anxiety is common among the entrepreneurially gifted, says Sarah Wilson, author of the book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety. “It comes down to brain function: their ability to think beyond straight data and to hyper-connect,” Wilson says. People with high levels of anxiety “are able to think very broadly across multiple ideas all at once, which lends itself, obviously, to creating a business.”

Wilson, 44, is herself an entrepreneur, having recently closed her six-year-old wellness site, IQuitSugar.com. (Wilson says the 20-employee business was profitable but she left because the prospect of scaling turned her off.) Diagnosed with anxiety at age 12, she has struggled for decades with obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and depression. At the same time, she forged an impressive career that included stints as the editor of the Australian edition of Cosmopolitan and host of MasterChef Australia.

The book was born from Wilson’s realization that anxiety wasn’t water dousing her fire but instead the kindling that fuels it. Rather than leave her cowering under a bed, her disorders propelled Wilson to act: boldly, sometimes even dangerously. She says it was the disorder that drove her to speak before audiences of thousands and take solitary overnight hikes through the woods. “It was all completely tolerable compared to the fretting and anxiety–the shit I make up in my head,” she says. “A lot of people with anxiety disorders extend themselves into what others would call stressful situations. They have to touch the flame.”

That is true, she says, for many entrepreneurs, who find inaction agonizing. An obsession with the future, which sufferers fear, also predisposes the anxious for startup life. Entrepreneurs “are constantly over-attending to things that might happen,” Wilson says. “They see what is ahead.”

But if anxiety can incite entrepreneurs, it can also complicate some core responsibilities of leadership. Wilson offers four suggestions for taming the beast.

1. Limit your choices.

Decisions are especially draining for anxious people, who can be paralyzed by choice. “If you overtax the decision-making part of your brain, you can trigger anxiety,” Wilson says. “And if you are anxious, you find it nigh impossible to make decisions.” The problem is compounded because trivial decisions may stress anxious people as much as weighty ones. 

Sinking “certainty anchors” throughout the day–always wearing the same style of suit, for example, or ordering the same lunch–“prevents you from wearing out that part of the brain so you don’t get decision fatigue,” Wilson says. For business decisions, she recommends asking staff to present you with a problem and three possible solutions. “Artificially narrow it as much as possible,” she says.

2. Don’t freak them out.

Wilson compares anxiety to walking through life with a bowl full of water, trying not to slosh it on yourself or the people you care about. Those people include employees, who may be shaken or demoralized at the sight of a fearful leader.

If you can’t communicate to the troops with at least a veneer of calm, let someone else do the honors. “Anxious entrepreneurs, if they are smart, will employ a CEO or someone else to handle it,” Wilson says. Even one-on-one communication can be difficult. “When your anxiety is super bad and you have descended into a spiral of cascading thoughts, sometimes you can’t even get a word out,” she adds. In those circumstances, she advises getting away for a day or so to refocus and regroup. Walking is a good remedy as well: “It calms the anxious part of the brain.” 

3. Rename it.

Anxiety is very similar to excitement, Wilson says. They both evoke the same biological response of arousal. Anxiety sufferers can choose to interpret that response any way they like. So if you are getting the shakes before a presentation, “you say, ‘I am probably anxious. But I’m going to choose to see this as excitement,'” she suggests. “If you simply say the words, ‘I am excited,’ then you will be.”

4. Have an exit strategy.

Wilson advises setting a trigger–for example, a specific level of financial security–that tells you when to sell or close down the business. Otherwise, she says, “your ideation is such that you can keep going and going until you find yourself in a dead end.”