Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety

Sign up to the Panic Attack Recovery Newsletter

You should definitely consider using cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety.

The premise of cognitive behavioral therapy is that people’s emotions are caused by their thoughts. By learning to change their thoughts, people can change their emotions and feel better. In other words, free themselves of anxiety and panic.
There’s more to this though.

When you’re feeling anxious or experiencing a panic attack, you are experiencing the emotions of anxiety and panic because of distortions in your thinking. Specifically these distortions are called “cognitive distortions.”

A cognitive distortion is an inaccurate thought about reality. For example, if you feel your heart racing and consequently conclude that you’re having a heart attack. In reality your heart is racing just because of anxiety. In this instance your original thought (that you’re having a heart attack) would be a “cognitive distortion.”

This is just one example, but in reality many cognitive distortions probably cause your anxiety or panic.

The exciting thing, however, is that one-by-one you can dissect these distortions and then substitute healthier and realistic thoughts in their place. Such a process is referred to as “cognitive restructuring.”

Many people complain that prior to experiencing their first panic attack they were completely rational. After their first attack however their thoughts became circular and constantly stuck in a cycle of anxiety. Therefore using cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety can be very satisfying because it allows them to regain their rational thinking (not that it was ever really lost to begin with but it might have felt that way) while getting better.

You first need to understand a little more about cognitive distortions though. In order to be able to do “cognitive restructuring” one needs to be able to identify the distortions so let’s first look at the different types of distortions.

Remember: The reason to use cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety is that anxiety and panic attacks are caused by distortions in your thinking. Cognitive behavioral therapy maintains that 10 types of cognitive distortions exist. One or more of these distortions exist within your thinking when you are experiencing negative emotions.

First review the definitions of the 10 types of cognitive distortion (below) and then apply them to the example. Once you review the distortions please proceed to the next page.

Sign up to the Panic Attack Recovery Newsletter

The mission of this site is to provide comprehensive, easy-to-understand information to help those with panic attacks, panic disorder, anxiety, and agoraphobia.