Getting the news that you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating, but all hope is not lost. Medical advancements and clinical trials continue to happen frequently as the search for a cure continues. These experimental therapies may help to give you or your loved one an optimistic outlook, which can be vital for anyone with a chronic illness.
One new therapy that is emerging is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which is a psychotherapy that has been used in the past to help manage depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and other symptoms of mental illness. Learn more about CBT therapy and how it could potentially benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease.
What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?
CBT therapy was developed in the 1960s and can be used as a short-term solution for certain issues or long-term solution if needed. It is a structured approach that helps patients develop different behaviors or patterns so that they can adapt more easily in situations. It is often used to alleviate responses that come from living with symptoms of mental illness and may be recommended by a psychologist, neuropsychologist or another behavioral specialist.
CBT guides patients to speak more about their thoughts so that their therapist can help guide them through their emotions. For example, negative thoughts associated with depression or seasonal affective disorder are reframed in a way that casts them in a more positive light. This helps the patient to work toward having a more positive outlook, or at least being able to rework their internal speech so that they aren’t dragging themselves down. It may also help in creating behavior change, encouraging new behavior patterns and more.
Each patient is different and so is each condition, thus the recommended length of CBT will vary based on each patient and their therapist’s recommendations.
Can CBT Therapy Help Alzheimer’s Patients?
Many older adults with Alzheimer’s often exhibit symptoms similar to other mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, irritability, and more as they wrestle with the diagnosis of Alzheimer disease. While cognitive behavioral therapy is no cure for the disease, it may benefit those suffering from mild Alzheimer’s to use some CBT practices so they can work on reframing any negative thoughts that may come along with a diagnosis.
A 2015 randomized controlled trial from the U.S. National Institute of Health found that CBT therapy could have benefits for not only the patient but for their caregiver as well. Working to change those negative thoughts into something more manageable can make it easier to deal with the other circumstances surrounding an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It can also potentially remove some stress off of the caregiver so that they do not have to hear continuous negative thoughts from their loved one.
Alzheimers specialists near you may be able to provide specific recommendations for you or for your loved one. Every case is unique and each patient has varying needs and may need a different form of treatment in order to improve their quality of life. The specialist may also be able to recommend support groups that can supplement CBT therapy for you. Group therapy might be effective at helping patients talk through what they are thinking or feeling. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these sessions may move to an online setting.
New treatments and experimental ideas come about frequently as many in the medical world try to solve the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. Until a cure is found, these treatments may be a good idea for those suffering from mild symptoms of the disease. A neurologist or other specialist can guide you and your family toward the best treatment plan for you.
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