Anxiety Disorders – Cognitive Therapy vs Psychoanalysis

Anxiety Disorders – Cognitive Therapy vs Psychoanalysis

If you speak to a doctor about anxiety or panic attacks two things will come to that doctor’s mind: drug therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. These techniques work like magic – for some people.

There has always been a significant group of people for whom these techniques were ineffective. Some could not tolerate the side effects of the drugs or the drugs didn’t work. For some CBT let them take a step forward, but then they would immediately take two steps back. Perhaps CBT and Drug therapy, both symptomatic treatments, failed to touch any of their underlying causes.

CBT – A Great Therapy

CBT has become a fashionable therapy for anxiety, phobias and panic because it is relatively cheap, quick, and easy. It is a good therapy, it has helped many millions of people, and it has an important role to play in the fight against all manner of mental health issues. But remember, it is not a cure-all, and it is not the only weapon in the psychologist’s armory.

Medical / psychological arrogance

As CBT is cheap and statistically proven to be effective (for some people), much of the mental health establishment have put it on a pedestal to the detriment of all other therapies. Other therapies tend to take longer, in some cases much longer, and it is hard to statistically analyze results as many factors can cause changes over long periods of time. For example, a woman goes into psychotherapy and two years later her panic disorder is much improved, dare she say cured. Now, was that improvement in her life due to the psychotherapy, or due to the fact that in those two years she got a new job, her father died, and she got divorced?

Analytical Therapy got a bad name

Analytical therapies tend to be much longer, and therefore more costly affairs. And then there are the stories about people who spent $ 6,000 on therapy over three years, or $ 20,000 over ten years, and felt no different. And the misconception about therapists who sit in darkened rooms while you lie on a couch and talk about inappropriate parental fantasies.

Fashions changed

Suddenly, CBT was in and nothing else was worthy of discussion. This was irresponsible and foolhardy on the part of the medical/psychological establishment. There is no magic bullet for anxiety disorders and therefore there must be a range of treatment options available. Obviously some of these will be symptomatic, some will be temporary crutches, some will be aimed at changing self-esteem, and some will be looking at root causes.

New evidence

As I have said, it has always been hard to statistically prove the efficacy of long term approaches such as analytical therapy. However, in February 2007, The American Journal of Psychiatry published a paper which showed that short term analytical therapy had been found to be highly effective in treating a study group with Panic Disorder.

The results

The therapy used in the study was Psychodynamic therapy, which has been around for some time (psychodynamics was born in 1874). What was particularly interesting about its use in this study was that it had been pared-down to target panic-disorder in a short space of time. Almost three quarters of the study group improved significantly, this was better than the 39% who improved significantly with more fashionable symptomatic relaxation techniques.

The future

What this study shows is that there is more than one effective tool for beating anxiety disorders. It also shows that there are options beyond CBT and drug therapy. Looking for the underlying causes of anxiety and other mental health issues may not be the answer for everyone, but if other things aren’t working for you then they may well be worth a try.

I am an ex-anxiety sufferer campaigning against expensive gimmicks targeted at vulnerable anxiety sufferers by cynical businessmen. I set up to examine various therapies, techniques and gimmicks sold as a cure for anxiety, panic attacks and phobias. I also have sections on meditation, EFT / TFT, depression, drugs, stress, insomnia, and much much more.

Article Source:

Comments are closed.