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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Menopause can be a scary time! Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you understand your emotions and eliminate negativity. Use this to manage your stress and cope with overwhelming feelings. We have provided a number of tips and resources outlining the benefits of CBT.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a talking therapy used to tackle feelings of negativity or uncertainty. It changes your thought pattern by eliminating negative emotions and encouraging positivity.

CBT works through your every day thoughts and feelings. It allows you to talk through your thoughts, identifying the route of your negativity. CBT can help you tackle overwhelming problems by shifting your mindset, helping you manage your stress and improve your overall well-being.

How can CBT help with your Menopause?

The menopause can be a very stressful time. Stress can actually trigger menopausal symptoms, and make existing ones worse. This includes your low mood, hot flashes, and anxiety. All of which can contribute to your feelings of confusion and fear.

CBT can help you identify these upsetting feelings and teach you to approach them in a different way. It will encourage adopting a more positive mindset. By eliminating your negative thoughts you can introduce a relaxed state of mind.

CBT is commonly used for:

  • Feelings of stress and anxiety
  • Physical symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes
  • Coping with grief or loss
  • Sleep disorders.

Self-guided CBT

Self-guided CBT can be done on your own time and in your own space. It is a great way to gain control over your own emotions when moving forward.

  • Schedule some time for yourself. Make yourself a priority. Spend some time doing things that bring you enjoyment and relax your mind. Journalling or sketching are both great ways to put your thoughts on paper. By voicing whats going on in your head, you can gain a deeper understanding of your feelings. Additionally, creating a routine for yourself can provide a sense of familiarity.
  • Relaxed breathing exercises are a great way to lower your heart rate and lower your stress levels. This helps send a message to your brain to 'calm down', helping you cope with overwhelming thoughts. Let this act as a 're-set' button. It will allow you to approach any negative feelings from a different perspective.
  • Learn to identify your thought patterns through cognitive restructuring. This can encourage you to change the way you feel or react to situations. Linking how your thoughts affect your behaviours is crucial. Only then can you move forward and take efforts to eliminate your negativity.
  • "Managing Hot Flashes and Night Sweats" A Cognitive Behavioural Self-Help Guide to Menopause - Written by Myra Hunter and Melanie Smith. This is a great resource if you want to learn more about CBT. It outlines how you can practice it and how it can help you during your menopause.

CBT with a Therapist

CBT with a therapist has also shown to be very effective in reducing menopausal symptoms. Often, you can get a referral from your doctor on the NHS. There may be a waiting time, but you should be able to access therapist support. In the UK the therapist led CBT that you can access on the NHS will be a general programme, rather than one which focuses on menopause specifically.

What can you expect from a CBT therapist?

  • Your therapist needs to understand your mental health. Talk through your discomfort. Voicing your thoughts is one of the best ways to understand them. This will also allow your therapist to identify your feelings of negativity and/or uncertainty. Together, you can then practice techniques that target relaxation, coping, and stress management.
  • Be patient. It may take a few sessions for your therapist to grasp your situation. But trust this process.
  • Make sure that you feel comfortable with your therapist. You should feel as though you can be transparent about how you are feeling. Only then can they help you move forward. If you do not find that initial comfort, you may want to consider looking for another therapist.

What is the difference between CBT and Mindfulness?

CBT is focused on problem solving. It encourages techniques that eliminate your negative emotions. By isolating positivity, it teaches you to change your overall mindset. It's a tool to manage your mental health for life - and once you pick it up you should be able to apply it to different situations.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, directly approaches your negative emotions. It allows you to accepts them as a normal part of human experience rather than fighting them. Mindfulness teaches you to embrace that negativity as part of the present moment.

Both are very effective in supporting you through your menopause. To learn more about mindfulness and how it can be used during your menopause, have a look at our 'Mindfulness' article!

References:

nhs.uk. n.d. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). [online]
Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt/ [Accessed 20 May 2020].

Gillihin, S., 2016. Therapy Without A Therapist?. [online] Psychology Today.
Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/think-act-be/201609/therapy-without-therapist [Accessed 20 May 2020].

Ackerman, C., 2020. 25 CBT Techniques And Worksheets For Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. [online] PositivePsychology.com.
Available at: https://positivepsychology.com/cbt-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-techniques-worksheets/ [Accessed 18 May 2020].

Mayoclinic.org. n.d. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - Mayo Clinic. [online]
Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610 [Accessed 18 May 2020].