Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — good thinking

innerthoughtsFinally, a psychological treatment that works!  The first witch doctor probably said the same thing; so, what is different now?  A treatment method called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and it can be administered by an Internet application and it still works!  It’s not dependent on a therapist.  That little fact changes everything — it’s not charisma, it’s science (see reference).

The article cited above is about treatment of insomnia (something that may affect 25% of humans).  But, many other conditions, like depression, also seem to have good results with the method.  In randomized studies, the treatment works as well, sometimes better, than drug treatment (in milder cases).

Mental health problems seem to be divided in two groups: mental problems related to brain dysfunction (most effectively treated with medications) and mental problems occurring with  a normal brain.  This is like the difference between computer hardware problems and computer problems caused by pushing the wrong buttons.  Admittedly it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference and patients can really hurt themselves either way.

So what is CBT?  First consider a dog brain:


Now the human brain:

BED TIME –>  {if I don’t sleep I feel terrible, beer or a cigarette may help, I did not sleep well yesterday, if I don’t sleep for 8 hours I will die, I can’t stand this anxiety} –> NO SLEEP

That human internal conversation is the difference.  And,  the internal conversation can cause problems especially if they come to incorrect conclusions taken as truth.  CBT, with the help of a trained therapist (or sometimes a computer), teaches the patient to critically analyze the internal conversation to avoid behavior which makes the situation worse or behavior which is based on a flawed conclusion .  Unlike traditional psychotherapy this is not a long-term engagement — people learn to do CBT themselves and feel better or sleep better as a result.

CBT is clearly part of quality health care and may reduce the overuse of sedatives and anti-depression drugs.

Click the links:  overview of CBT for insomnia, computer treatment of insomnia and principles of CBT.

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