Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Can Help Caregivers with Anxiety and Depression

Health Professional

May is Mental Health Month.

Caregiving to someone with Alzheimer's is one of the most difficult and demanding of roles and it can go on for years. Although there is now an emphasis on promoting a quality of life and maximizing the functionality of people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, there are many caregivers who experience anxiety and depression either because of, or unrelated to, their role.

There is evidence to show that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help develop coping strategies and change behavior of caregivers which help alleviate symptoms. CBT has a proven track record for a range of conditions including depression, panic attacks, phobias, sleep disorders and other anxiety-related disorders. CBT also has an impressive success rate of around 50%.

What is CBT

CBT is a form of talking therapy. It combines cognitive therapy and behavior therapy; a focus that helps people to identify and then modify negative thinking and behaviours that serve to undermine mental health. It also looks at the way you behave and deal with emotional problems. CBT with caregivers focuses on identifying and modifying caregiver related beliefs, developing new behavioral strategies to deal with the demands of caregiving, to fostering activities that may promote feelings of well being. It can be very effective, especially with depressive symptoms.

What happens in a CBT session?

CBT sessions have a structure, so in most cases it is offered as a therapeutic package over a set number of sessions. You meet with the therapist to describe specific problems and to set goals you agree to work towards.

The sessions are structured to discuss and work towards changing the way you think about caregiving. The focus depends on your symptoms and experiences.

You are given homework at the end of each session that you do outside the sessions with the therapist. Discussing on your progress is discussed within session time.

Results of CBT on Caregivers

There are a lot of studies that show improved feelings of wellbeing, reduced levels of anxiety and depression and improvements in sleep patterns.

How do locate CBT practitioners in your area?

The American Psychological Society has a psychologist locator in your area or you can ask your family doctor for a referral.

More Information about CBT

10 reasons to consider CBT

Sources: Martin, P. R. (2011). Iaap handbook of applied psychology. Blackwell Publishing.