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Author Topic: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!  (Read 469 times)

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Offline SummerSun41

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Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« on: December 17, 2013, 10:08:01 PM »
Lately I've really been struggling with mental anxiety. Since I have a huge fear of getting depression (which stems from scary obsessive/intrusive thoughts), I am constantly questioning myself. When I'm doing something I constantly ask myself, "Is this an appropriate, normal reaction to this? Am I reacting how a normal person would react? Is this reaction a sign that I'm depressed?" It feels like if I could just FORGET about GAD and all this stuff that I would be fine! It's so annoying. Once I get into that cycle of questioning things, I start to feel anxious and I get this overwhelming feeling of doom and the world seems scary. I literally THINK myself into anxiety. This mostly only happens when I'm not busy, which unfortunately, is quite often since I'm on winter break from classes.

I'm also scared that I'll never be normal. I see people and families on TV living in these nice houses with their families, and I think, "What if I'm never able to be carefree like that?" I struggle with some derealization and at the moment, moving out of my parent's house (and into an apartment or house with my fiancÚ) seems terrifying because it will be new and unfamiliar. What if I move out and am so uncomfortable and anxious in our new place that I can't handle it and have a breakdown or get super depressed or something? It all sounds irrational and I've always loved watching home shows and I used to want to do interior design, so I know deep down that if I can just relax and not worry that I will enjoy it.

My question is, would CBT help me get through these fears and thoughts? I did talk therapy for a few weeks and it helped a bit, but it seems like whenever one fear dissipates, another one takes it's place and wreaks havoc on my mind! If anyone has had success with it, please share your story, or any advice at all.
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Offline scb07d

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2013, 03:49:23 AM »
Despite the large amount of anecdotal evidence you hear from people who have done CBT and the way it's supported in the psychological community, it doesn't actually work. At least the cognitive part doesn't.

The main idea of CBT is Cognitive Restructuring. This is where you take your "irrational" fear-based thoughts and replace them with more "accurate" thoughts. So like, you might be worried that you'll never live in a nice house, have a nice family etc. In Cognitive Restructuring, you'd take that thought and basically examine it, challenge the validity of it, see if you can determine where it comes from, etc and eventually it'll go away once it's dealt with.

Unfortunately, reality doesn't work like this.

For the most part, you can't do anything about the way you feel. Of course you can distract yourself, take medication, exercise, stuff like that. But you can't alter anxiety by treating your brain like a malfunctioning appliance. The anxiety you're experiencing isn't going anywhere most likely. The key is learning to accept these feelings/thoughts and still going about your daily routine in a way that works for you. The more you try to alter your feelings, the more suffering you'll experience I think.

So no, CBT probably isn't going to help alleviate these fears/thoughts. It could by way of the placebo effect, but that's probably not what you're looking for.

I would just find something else to do until school starts and then focus on that as much as you can.

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Offline doogle2

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2013, 04:26:22 AM »
CBT works in 2 stages - the first stage shows you that your thoughts are not really functional, useful or relevant and the second stage shows you how to exchange those thoughts for what is more functional, useful and relevant so that you can change your thinking for the better. However there is one key factor with CBT that people, including therapists, can sometimes fail to grasp and that is that it is the mind itself that is malfunctioning.

What I mean by that is IT IS NOT just your thoughts that are faulty, but also the mechanism that is producing those thoughts and so you can work on the thoughts all you like but if you do not recognise and ACCEPT that the thing producing those thoughts also needs care and attention then you will not get much success from CBT.

So a two-pronged attack needs to be implemented.

One - you need to work on your thoughts with CBT and exchange the poor thinking for better thinking, etc.
and
Two - if the thing that is producing the thoughts is currently mal-functioning then that needs to be addressed as well.

As you have noticed already, when we just "think" all the time then the mind begins to race and jump from one thought to the next without stopping and this is how we get anxious and ill. What we don't seem to realise is that it is the mind racing along at 200 mph that is the source of our problems and so just exchanging thoughts at 200 mph is not going to work. SLOWING that mind down AND thinking better thoughts is the key to it all and when we can get the two things operating in tandem with each other then and only then do we begin to see results.

Good thoughts calm down the body and the nervous system in time - but also and equally importantly a calm body and nervous system calm down the thoughts, the racing mind - and so the TWO things are essential ingredients on our road to recovery.

So CBT will work on it own in time - and so will relaxing the body and mind by means of distracting yourself with hobbies, doing gentle exercise, aromatherapy, yoga, etc., etc. but when you put the two things together and work on relaxing and supporting your mind (and body) on both fronts - well then you on to something, as that malfunctioning appliance as scb07d puts it WILL regain its balance and poise AND THEN begin to function properly again - once you realise how best to look after it.
 
Hope it helps  :action-smiley-065:
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The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a Heaven that it shows itself cloddish ~ Evelyn Waugh

Offline tinam7

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2013, 08:18:47 AM »
Totally agree with doogle2 (were you once doogle?....just joking.....check out meditation). You provide such good analysis.

CBT can and does work, for some, perhaps not all. The trouble is it requires work and effort and consistency from us. We provide the input, we bear the responsibility and reap the rewards. It can be a glorious trip to recondition our mind and thinking. Our brain starts to pay attention and the communication between left and right hemisphere improves wonderfully.
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Offline doogle2

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2013, 08:31:45 AM »
Hi Tina,

Yes, I was doogle - but lost my login details - I had to re-register in order to PM the site owner for my old details, but I PM'd him and nothing happened so it's now doogle2  :action-smiley-065: 
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The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a Heaven that it shows itself cloddish ~ Evelyn Waugh

Offline tinam7

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2013, 09:05:22 AM »
Oh goody, I'm not losing my marbles....yet.

Can be doogle, doogle 1, doogle 2, doogle 3.....whatever. You contribute sooooo much.
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Offline scb07d

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2013, 06:18:19 PM »
In my experience, ACT is more effective and makes more sense than CBT. Even though some would say ACT is a subset of CBT (since CBT has become an umbrella term). Personally, I don't think Cognitive Restructuring actually works. People believe in it, but I think it's mostly a placebo effect. It's more so the experiences and Behavior part of CBT that creates changes in people's life. It's useful to question your thinking when dealing with approach anxiety, (like if you're avoiding things that are important to you) but adopting this kind of behavior as something you continuously do is questionable.

Also, I would say that relaxation, meditation, etc are useful coping mechanisms but they aren't something that can cure anxiety. They're similar to exercise, journaling, etc in that they're useful tools for coping with psychological issues, but they can't "fix" the issue.
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Offline CarrieAnn

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2013, 08:26:18 PM »
Something simple that works for me....positive thinking. Turn those 'doom and gloom' thoughts around, just think the total opposite. I know it sounds too simple, but it really does work.
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Offline SummerSun41

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2013, 11:08:03 PM »
Thanks for your replies everyone! I really appreciate them. I think I might try it, keep an open mind, and see what happens. If it doesn't work then I'll try something else! It seems like whenever I write a post on here, it weakens the issue because today has been relatively anxiety-free. So again, thanks! Any other advice for constantly checking/questioning yourself is welcomed!
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Offline doogle2

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2013, 04:25:32 AM »
Any other advice for constantly checking/questioning yourself is welcomed!

You have to learn to forget about yourself, stop being concerned about yourself and put your attention "out there" on life instead. This is the essence of CBT you have to recognise your behaviour and change it for the better and if you can recognise that you are always internalising IE: always checking and questioning then you can also recognise that if you could change that behaviour somehow then you would be free-er and be able to find a little more peace, etc.

Well that can be achieved. It isn't easy and won't happen in a week, but it can be achieved and to achieve it you have to work on it. It's a skill that can be learned and just like learning any other skill it takes time and practise to get better at it. Practise is the answer, practise, practise, practise - just like me learning to play the guitar if I don't practise then I won't get any better and so how much you practise is up to you - but if you practise regularly then I guarantee you'll get better.

So jump in and practise - learn how to forget about yourself and put your attention on other things instead.

Look at a bird in the sky for example, just look and really see it without any mental commentary and see how you become enthralled by it. If not a bird, then a pet, if not a pet then a baby, if not a baby then a film, if not a film then a book, etc., etc, etc. just put yourself back "out there" into life and forget about your troubles - that's the way and then if you really need time to check in and discuss your troubles with yourself then just allow yourself 30 mins a day to do so. Set a time whereby you agree with your mind that its OK to check and question, but make sure you have the resolve to only do so for 30 mins a day - because any more than that is just ruminating right!!??.

That's what I did with my mind I told it I would sit down for 30 mins every night and check-in, etc. So then when it tried to check or question itself at any other time of the day I would say to it "Ah-ha, not now - this can be discussed later at 8pm as agreed" and do you know what it agreed, it complied, it was happy to leave me alone until 8pm (or whatever time it was that suited me, the time isn't important - it's the agreement with your mind that is important) and as long as it knew it was going to get my attention at some point it seemed to be quite happy to "shut-up" again (after it was instructed it to of course). 

So I would sit down for 30mins and the mind would start its rant and do you know what by the end of 30mins (and sometimes or 10 or 15) I realised many times that the mind had gotten bored with all the attention it was getting and actually started to drift off and think about other more mundane stuff instead. That is when I realised that that is all that the mind is - it's an attention seeker - that's all - and when this is spotted and realised by YOU then that is the day you will see for yourself that it can be trained to not be seeking your attention all the time.

But all that comes with time and practise. 

Don't believe me, OK that's fine - all I ask is you practise and find out for yourself.

Hope it helps  :action-smiley-065:                     


   
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The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a Heaven that it shows itself cloddish ~ Evelyn Waugh

Offline AncientMelody

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2013, 10:42:36 AM »
Something simple that works for me....positive thinking. Turn those 'doom and gloom' thoughts around, just think the total opposite. I know it sounds too simple, but it really does work.

It's funny: Around the time where life stress started to snowball, right before full-blown anxiety and depressive symptoms, I started becoming a "positive thinker". I think I have more positive thoughts now that I'm going through this because I almost realize I need to to survive. Figuratively speaking. If I'm going to function with these symptoms I damn well better be as positive as I can. (Doesn't always translate into positive FEELING, but it certainly helps me rebound between rough spells more quickly). In a way, simply positive thinking it a very basic boil-down of CBT.
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Offline AncientMelody

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2013, 09:14:36 PM »
Despite the large amount of anecdotal evidence you hear from people who have done CBT and the way it's supported in the psychological community, it doesn't actually work. At least the cognitive part doesn't.

The main idea of CBT is Cognitive Restructuring. This is where you take your "irrational" fear-based thoughts and replace them with more "accurate" thoughts. So like, you might be worried that you'll never live in a nice house, have a nice family etc. In Cognitive Restructuring, you'd take that thought and basically examine it, challenge the validity of it, see if you can determine where it comes from, etc and eventually it'll go away once it's dealt with.

Unfortunately, reality doesn't work like this.

For the most part, you can't do anything about the way you feel. Of course you can distract yourself, take medication, exercise, stuff like that. But you can't alter anxiety by treating your brain like a malfunctioning appliance. The anxiety you're experiencing isn't going anywhere most likely. The key is learning to accept these feelings/thoughts and still going about your daily routine in a way that works for you. The more you try to alter your feelings, the more suffering you'll experience I think.

So no, CBT probably isn't going to help alleviate these fears/thoughts. It could by way of the placebo effect, but that's probably not what you're looking for.

I would just find something else to do until school starts and then focus on that as much as you can.

Actually, CBT is the one therapy style that has scientific evidence supporting it as one of the most effective treatments for GAD. Not anecdotal evidence, scientific evidence. It's even been shown to promote changes in the brain as medications do.
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Offline scb07d

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2013, 12:47:31 AM »
Despite the large amount of anecdotal evidence you hear from people who have done CBT and the way it's supported in the psychological community, it doesn't actually work. At least the cognitive part doesn't.

The main idea of CBT is Cognitive Restructuring. This is where you take your "irrational" fear-based thoughts and replace them with more "accurate" thoughts. So like, you might be worried that you'll never live in a nice house, have a nice family etc. In Cognitive Restructuring, you'd take that thought and basically examine it, challenge the validity of it, see if you can determine where it comes from, etc and eventually it'll go away once it's dealt with.

Unfortunately, reality doesn't work like this.

For the most part, you can't do anything about the way you feel. Of course you can distract yourself, take medication, exercise, stuff like that. But you can't alter anxiety by treating your brain like a malfunctioning appliance. The anxiety you're experiencing isn't going anywhere most likely. The key is learning to accept these feelings/thoughts and still going about your daily routine in a way that works for you. The more you try to alter your feelings, the more suffering you'll experience I think.

So no, CBT probably isn't going to help alleviate these fears/thoughts. It could by way of the placebo effect, but that's probably not what you're looking for.

I would just find something else to do until school starts and then focus on that as much as you can.

Actually, CBT is the one therapy style that has scientific evidence supporting it as one of the most effective treatments for GAD. Not anecdotal evidence, scientific evidence. It's even been shown to promote changes in the brain as medications do.

Things get extremely murky when you're dealing with these efficacy trials of psychological treatments I think. When you think about how they measure the "success" of a treatment, they usually do it through questionnaires if I'm not mistaken. It's difficult to look inside someone's brain and determine that they're feeling X level of anxiety.  I think it can be done on some level through fMRIs, etc, but it's pretty weak at this point imo. A lot of what the treatment relies on is people saying whether it worked or not. The same goes for medications honestly. The evidence in that department is much weaker than people assume. I've found that SSRIs definitely do work on some level, but not in the way most people assume before taking them.

Personally, I've found that Cognitive Restructuring doesn't work and relies on a person believing that a change is occurring when it might not be. On the other hand, I think the perspective put forth by ACT makes a lot of sense and lines up more accurately with what I've experienced and witnessed in the world.

Also... I'm talking about Cognitive Restructuring mainly when I say CBT. There are other elements under the CBT umbrella that are more simple and are quite valuable (mostly the behavioral aspect). I'm saying that a person can't redesign their thoughts to eliminate anxiety. However, they can change their thinking in a way that alters behaviors (which could then reduce anxiety). So I do think CBT works and has evidence behind it... but not the Cognitive Restructuring part (in the most rigid form of it).
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Offline tinam7

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Re: Can CBT help me stop questioning everything?!
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2013, 07:40:32 AM »
The insistence on "scientific" proof is proper, I suppose.

More interesting to me is observing ourself and others and being open-minded.  CBT is not brain surgery, we know that. But we do know from stroke victims that the brain's neuro-plasticity is mighty powerful. The brain can change itself. The problem is it takes time and effort and there is recidivism. It's a learning process. Consider how a child learns to walk and talk.
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