Anxiety is our reaction to stress. It is not a mental disorder per se. Sometimes, anxiety is beneficial to some people. It can help them become more alert and boost their ability to respond to stressful situations with a clear, and agile mind.
However, excessive anxiety will often result in what is known as generalized anxiety disorder or GAD. The National Institute of Mental Health describes GAD as a situation “when worry gets out of control.” Left untreated, it can lead to or worsen other physical health conditions, impair mental function, and result in a generally bleak outlook on life.
An emerging treatment for GAD today is CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT for anxiety is just one of its many applications in treating psychological disorders.
Let’s talk about CBT and discuss some research-based facts on how it can help people with anxiety.
What is CBT?
CBT is a treatment program that helps people diagnosed with GAD identify and change thought patterns that adversely affect behavior and emotions.
Essentially, GAD can cripple a person due to negative thinking patterns, so CBT aims to equip patients with techniques that help them control anxiety in a healthy, and proactive manner.
Research-based Statistics about CBT for Anxiety
CBT is gaining recognition in the psychiatric community due to the effectiveness and efficiency of the treatment plan. However, there are still a lot of gray areas in the CBT field because of research gaps and limited populations.
1. Anxiety Disorders in the US
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the US every year, accounting for 18.1% of the population. Moreover, they found that only 36.9% are receiving treatment even if anxiety is treatable.
Here is a breakdown of anxiety cases in the country:
- Generalized anxiety disorder affects around 6.8 million American adults, and only around 43.2% receive treatment. The ratio of men and women having GAD is 1:2.
- Panic disorder affects around 6 million American adults.
- Social anxiety disorder accounts for around 6.8% of the US population or 15 million adults.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects around 1% of the US population and occurs equally among men and women.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects around 7.7 million American adults or 3.5% of the population.
2. CBT is Also Effective as an Adjunct Treatment for Patients with Treatment-resistant Depression and Anxiety
In the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, a study discussed the effectiveness of CBT interventions for anxiety and depression as an adjunct treatment. Normally, CBT has been prescribed as a primary treatment. However, the study has shown that adjunct CBT is effective long term and it’s cost-effective for patients taking other treatments.
According to the study results, CBT has reduced depressive symptoms and has improved the quality of life of patients over an average span of 46 months. At the end of the therapy, the average improvement in quality of life is at 40 months. Remission of symptoms is another long-term benefit seen in the patients who participated. The participants of this study had severe and chronic depression, while some also had physical or psychological comorbidities.
3. CBT for Anxiety is More Effective for Long-term Treatment
Journal BMC Psychiatry featured a study comparing the effectiveness and efficiency of CBT and general counseling in treating depression and anxiety in the UK. The data was taken from over 33,200 patients in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services.
Both CBT and general counseling are effective in treating depression and anxiety. But the mean recovery rate for CBT is around 59% and 43% for general counseling.
They also have comparable outcomes. However, CBT stands out for patients attending 18 to 20 sessions which accounted for 3.2% of the patients who attended 20 sessions. Overall, the study concluded that CBT tends to be more effective at eight or more sessions.
4. Online CBT or Internet-based Therapy Shows Promising Results as to its Effectiveness in Treating Psychiatric Disorders
Journal Cureus explored the effectiveness of internet-based CBT as an alternative to face-to-face therapies. The study focused on the effectiveness of CBT across various psychiatric disorders like depression, generalized anxiety disorders, panic disorder, adjustment disorder, bipolar disorder, and many more. The study also considered patients with psychiatric comorbidity or those having two or more psychiatric disorders (including substance abuse).
According to the results, the CBT treatment plan for anxiety done online has been effective in managing comorbid mental conditions. Also, another important finding is the cost-effectiveness of conducting therapy and the cost burden on the health care system. Internet-based CBT was an advantage to rural areas in the US due to the lack of access to mental health treatments.
5. CBT Proves To Be Superior to Applied Relaxation When Treating GAD
Applied relaxation therapy is a popular technique in treating generalized anxiety disorder or GAD. It involves calming the mind and reducing tension during anxiety attacks. However, the journal Dialogues Clin Neurosci presented that CBT techniques for anxiety are superior to applied relaxation. In the study, CBT and applied relaxation are fairly comparable.
But if the results are compared with a waitlist control group, CBT is superior to applied relaxation. A waitlist control group is a group of patients who did not receive experimental treatment. They are patients receiving CBT after the experimental treatment is finished. Furthermore, this study also supported the long-term outcomes of CBT based on the results of meta-analyses.
The Bottom Line
The prevalence of anxiety disorders among people is a developing endemic. Despite the available treatments for anxiety, only a small portion of the diagnosed patients receive proper treatment. Moreover, the research gap, dissonance in the academic and psychiatric community, and lack of data still give significant doubt about CBT’s true effectiveness.
However, it is worth noting that though the success rate of CBT is relative, entering CBT treatment for anxiety is much better than doing nothing. If you’d like to give CBT a try, health professionals will help you find the best treatment plan based on your needs.
CBT is not a one-size-fits-all kind of therapy. At Roots TMS, we can design a treatment program that helps relieve anxiety symptoms. We’ll also work with you to develop new habits that contribute to long-term recovery.
Take the next step with Roots TMS today. Learn more about our services and insurance coverage by calling (562) 561-2455 or by filling out our contact form.