The Role of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Treating Comorbid Disorders


Why It’s Important to Treatment Both Disorders at the Same Time

A diagnosis of comorbid disorders means that you have two mental health conditions. You aren’t alone, as comorbid disorders are the rule rather than the exception in mental health diagnosis. As you seek mental health recovery resources, it’s important to find experienced and knowledgeable professionals to distinguish between symptoms of multiple disorders so that your symptoms are accurately diagnosed and effectively treated.

When making your mental health treatment plan, it’s important to treat both disorders simultaneously so that unaddressed symptoms don’t cause confusion or impact the management of either. Without treatment for comorbid disorders, you may experience compounded effects that challenge your ability to cope and recover. You deserve to have each symptom addressed in your treatment and support from mental health professionals as you assess each treatment method’s effectiveness. Whether you engage with an outpatient or inpatient mental health treatment center, those involved in the intake process will ensure that they understand:

  • The nature, intensity, and frequency of your symptoms
  • Past treatments
  • What has been helpful or detrimental to your recovery
  • Current resources and needs
  • Physical and mental health history
  • Your recovery goals

What Are Some Common Comorbid Disorders in Mental Health?

Common comorbid disorders are:

  • PTSD and depression
  • ADHD and OCD
  • Depression and anxiety disorders
  • Schizophrenia and panic disorder
  • Eating disorders and anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder and substance use disorder

Someone diagnosed with depression and PTSD may have overlapping symptoms but distinct needs in successfully treating each condition. If PTSD symptoms go unaddressed, that might exacerbate or slow their recovery from depression and vice versa. Another common issue is a condition like OCD not being quickly diagnosed because a patient’s symptom of another condition, such as hyperfocus in ADHD, has similar features. Involving a professional who thoroughly explores and addresses every one of your symptoms significantly impacts treatment options, best practices, and the pace and success of your recovery for the better.

Depression and anxiety are among the most prevalent mental health diagnoses and have high comorbidity. One study indicated that 45% of people with a depressive disorder also have an anxiety disorder, and 41% of those with an anxiety disorder also have a depressive disorder. They share the highest rate of genetic connection to any mental health condition. Both depression and anxiety frequently co-occur with substance use disorders, including issues related to alcohol and mental health. Therefore, it’s vital to address them comprehensively as part of your mental health treatment, considering the intricate relationship between alcohol, depression, and anxiety.

treating comorbid disorders

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: The Basics of What It Is

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an evidence-based treatment that reduces or resolves symptoms from various conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorders, and eating disorders, and its premise distinguishes it from many other treatments. Unlike therapies that focus on processing your past experiences, a CBT therapist guides you to focus and reflect on your present thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. They also:

  • Teach you to analyze whether or not your thoughts and beliefs are realistic and useful
  • Determine how your behaviors are serving you
  • Offer alternate beliefs for you to adopt that result in healthier behaviors
  • Gain experience in understanding others’ behaviors and needs
  • Increase your confidence in solving your own problems and making healthier decisions
  • Learn to calm your mind and body in the face of challenges

How Effective is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Treating Mental Health Disorders?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most researched mental health treatment that currently exists. Multiple research studies have found Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy more effective in treating mental health disorders than other kinds of therapy or medication. This includes high success in treating comorbid disorders, so It is widely used in mental health treatment centers. While many therapists use multiple modalities to treat patients, most agree that CBT’s collaborative, practical, and proactive nature makes it almost universally useful on its own or in addition to other treatments.

7 Benefits of Therapy for Mental Health

Seven benefits of therapy for mental health are:

1. Stronger problem-solving skills 

Practicing new coping and decision-making skills builds your capacity to overcome this challenging time. These will transfer to stresses and problems you encounter in the future.

2. Mindfulness of your feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, in particular, brings attention to your ways of thinking and how they impact your behavior. Rather than focusing much on your past, your therapist helps you create more realistic and useful beliefs that increase your ability to choose healthy behaviors. 

3. Improved ability to cope with stress

Being more aware of what you are experiencing in your mind and body helps you quickly catch and address early signs of stress. Using your coping skills at the onset of symptoms decreases the risk of a relapse or crisis.

4. Increased knowledge and skills to manage your symptoms

Professionals in a mental health treatment center help you understand your mental health conditions and the most effective skills to cope with each one. 

5. Healthier communication and relationship skills

Greater awareness of your thoughts and feelings increases your ability to communicate. This helps you gather support and makes you more likely to make healthy connections with others. Being more present with yourself allows you to reflect on your thoughts and actions, be a more present listener, and more quickly determine whether a relationship is aligned with your health and recovery.

6. Confidence in your ability to change and to accomplish your goals

Learning how to change your thoughts and behavior is empowering. While your immediate goal may be recovery, the skills you learn while accomplishing that goal will help you accomplish others throughout your life. Seeing yourself as an agent of change is powerful.

7. Ongoing professional resources to support you

Each step you take to seek support in managing your symptoms takes strength. Connecting with professionals dedicated to your recovery builds resources for you now that will also carry into your future.

Alter Behavioral Health™ is a Top Choice in California for the Treatment of Comorbid Disorders

If you have comorbid disorders, a high-quality outpatient or inpatient mental health center can offer the safe space and professional resources you deserve as you heal. Contact Alter Behavioral Health to find out how their mental health treatment centers can support you in taking your next steps toward recovery. There is hope for your healing needs and professionals are waiting to help.

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