When to seek treatment

Life can be wonderful and exciting – but at times also very challenging and difficult. Many problems can be dealt with or solved on your own or with the support from family, friends or colleagues. However, this is not always enough and it might be a very good idea or even crucial for your life situation and health to seek treatment.

People often seek therapy when they feel unable to live the life that they want to; when they have lost hope and the desire to live; or when they cannot solve their problems and make the changes they want to on their own or even with the support from their network. Others seek therapy because they have problems that keep coming back such as depressive symptoms, anxiety attacks, relationship problems or obsessive thoughts. Others again use therapy to prevent symptoms from reoccurring and have so-called “booster-sessions” every 3 or 6 months to remind them of how to cope with various issues.

Sometimes, a few sessions are enough to set a process of change in motion – other times, a longer course of therapy might be necessary.

See below for a description of various conditions or difficulties that people regularly seek treatment for and that cognitive-behavioral therapy can help with. Feel free to contact CBT Berlin if you have any questions.

Between 20 and 25 % of the Western population will according to estimates from the WHO at some point in their lives experience an episode of depression. Sometimes, a depression is triggered by specific events such as a crisis, stress at work or at home, abuse, physical health problems, becoming a parent or losing a loved one. But sometimes there is no apparent reason at all.

The symptoms of depression are: sadness and hopelessness; lack of energy and motivation; loss of pleasure from or interest in activities that used to bring excitement; decreased self-esteem; self-blame and guilt; thoughts about death and suicide; concentration and memory problems; sleep disturbances; changes in appetite.

To suffer from depression – or to be close to someone who suffers – can be extremely painful and debilitating and it is very important to seek help.

Just as with depression, it is estimated that 20 to 25 % of the Western population will at some point in their lives experience anxiety to a degree where treatment is necessary. Anxiety can be experienced in many forms and often occurs with other difficulties such as depression, stress or relationship problems. Some experience anxiety in the form of panic attacks, others feel a nervous restlessness, ruminate and worry, and others yet suffer from obsessive and unwanted thoughts and compulsive behaviors. See below for a description of different anxiety conditions.

Panic disorder/agoraphobia:
Panic disorder is characterized by sudden occurrences of uncomfortable physical symptoms and intense fear of fainting, losing control, going crazy or dying. The physical symptoms can be some or all of the following: elevated heart rate or palpitations, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath, feelings of choking, chest tightness, pain or discomfort, abdominal distress or nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness, or feeling unsteady, feelings of unreality or detachment from oneself, numbness or tingling sensations, and chills or hot flushes.

Negative thoughts, worries and/or physical sensations can trigger a chain reaction of catastrophic beliefs and panic, which exacerbate the physical symptoms and the anxiety. Panic disorder can be very debilitating and can cause the person to withdraw from social situations and public places such as dinners and parties, public transportation, caf├ęs/restaurants, cinemas etc. (also termed agoraphobia).

Social anxiety:
Social anxiety or social phobia relate to the fear of others’ critical attention or of behaving embarrassingly in front of others. It can be accompanied by low self-esteem, panic attacks and recurring physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating, shaking or trembling hands, nausea and the urge to go to the toilet. It is a condition, which can lead to increasing social isolation due to the typical avoidance of social situations and relations.

Generalized anxiety:
In contrast to panic disorder or phobias, generalized anxiety is characterized by constant and uncontrollable worrying or fear. The worries, concerns and ruminations have a persistent influence on the person’s thoughts and feelings, which might render daily life with family, friends and work very difficult. Generalized anxiety is often accompanied by physical discomfort and the physical symptoms described under panic disorder.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is the diagnostic term for unwanted, recurring obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors.

Obsessive thoughts can be ideas or images that are unwanted and unpleasant but keep reoccurring despite the person’s attempts to ignore or reject them. The person knows that they are unrealistic or irrational but feels frightened of them and of their possible consequences. Examples of obsessive thoughts are concerns about getting contaminated if, for instance, touching door handles or images of abusing or hurting someone like the person’s own child, parents or others.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or rituals that serve to decrease anxiety or fear of something bad happening. Examples of compulsions are extensive hand washing to avoid contamination or dirt, control rituals where the person repeatedly checks that, for instance, the door is closed or the oven turned off, or the need to touch or count objects in a certain order and at a certain speed.