Treating the whole person improves results


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been an excellent tool for helping to define the symptoms of particular psychological conditions. But it may be that this resource is providing an obstacle: doctors can’t see the forest for the trees.

Specific treatments not as effective as holistic approach

“Panic disorders are considered something different from social phobia, which is considered something different from PTSD. The hope was that by getting refined in the diagnosis we could target interventions for each of these diagnoses, but in reality that just hasn’t played out,” stated Peter Norton, associate professor in clinical psychology and director of the Anxiety Disorder Clinic at the University of Houston.

Transdiagnostic CBT works on all conditions

Through his studies, Norton realized he could work with a group of people with a variety of distinct anxiety disorders and develop an effective treatment program regardless of those artificial distinctions. His transdiagnostic cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the core underlying issues causing anxiety. By focusing on the whole person, his results were much better. “In my research study, over two-thirds of comorbid diagnoses went away, versus what we typically find when I’m treating a specific diagnosis such as a panic disorder, where only about 40% of people will show that sort of remission in their secondary diagnosis,” said Norton.

Bigger, better impact on treatment

“What I have learned from my past research is that if you treat you principal diagnosis, such as social phobia and you hate public speaking, you are going to show improvement on some of your secondary diagnosis. Your mood is going to get a little better your fear of heights might dissipate. . . We see a much bigger impact on comorbid diagnoses, ” concluded Norton.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Houston


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