Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Inflammation?

Recent research finds that about 35% of Americans suffer from chronic inflammation. It’s not just pain that sufferers live with, as science has proven that even low-grade inflammation can escalate into severe health issues, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes and a variety of other conditions. While treatments and lifestyle changes to combat chronic inflammation generally involve diet, exercise, anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications, it is becoming widely recognized that counseling services, namely cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can make a very positive difference. This is particularly true for certain segments of the U.S. population, although anyone can benefit. Read ahead to learn more.

Why Americans Should Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy When Creating a Strategy to Combat Chronic Inflammation

CBT for Inflammation Backed by Science

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) focuses on changing thought patterns to promote a healthier state of mind and body. The American Psychological Association (APA) indicates that CBT is based on the following core principles:

  • Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking
  • Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior
  • People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives

    Research conducted at UCLA reports that after undertaking a review of 56 clinical trials Involving more than 4000 individuals it was found that psychological and behavioral therapies may be as effective as pharmaceutical interventions (which can be harmful) in reducing inflammation in the body. More importantly, the meta-analysis found that CBT was superior to other psychotherapies for the same goal.

    “This seems to be a case of mind over matter […] Psychotherapies like CBT can change how we think about ourselves and the world, and changing these perceptions can in turn affect our biology. The results of this study take this idea one step further and suggest that psychotherapy may be an effective and relatively affordable strategy for reducing individuals’ risk for chronic diseases that involve inflammation.”


    Therapy for Cooccurring Mental Health Conditions

    Chronic inflammation is associated with a number of mental health concerns. In some cases there may be causation factors at play, but in all there is a cooccurring relationship. For example, studies show that people with diagnosed depression tend to have increased inflammation compared with the general population, including more inflammatory cytokines and C-reactive protein which are produced by the liver in response to inflammation.

    Mental and behavioral health concerns and disorders that cooccur with chronic inflammation include (but are not exclusive to) the following:

    • Anxiety disorder
    • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Depression
    • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 
    • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Schizophrenia
    • Sleeping disorder
    • Stress

    Cognitive behavioral therapy is known to be effective in treating (or helping to treat) all of the above issues. So even if not employed to directly target chronic inflammation, CBT is appropriate for anyone suffering from cooccurring mental and behavioral health issues.

    Population Specific Counseling Offers More Holistic Strategy

    Military Veterans and Athletes

    Certain populations appear to have higher instances of chronic inflammation than others, and some of these same populations have a significantly higher prevalence of cooccurring mental health concerns addressed above. For instance, studies have explored chronic inflammation in military veterans. One study found that the incidence of chronic inflammation in veterans increased over time since initial deployment. Chronic inflammation somewhat aligned with the general population at more than 36% for those 14 years out from deployment, but rose to about 44% for those 20 years after deployment. Meanwhile, career athletes also have high rates of inflammation. Research shows that up to 80% of retired NFL players experience daily pain related to inflammation.

    It’s important to delineate populations that face a higher lifetime risk of inflammation, and offer cognitive behavior therapy that is more focused on them and the specific mental health issues that they deal with. As you may know, veterans commonly battle with anxiety, depression, stress, and PTSD at a significantly greater rate than the average American. Athletes also have a higher prevalence of mental health issues when compared to the general population. A general CBT practitioner will not be as qualified to help a veteran or athlete who suffers from inflammation along with cooccurring mental health concerns. Kindbridge Behavioral Health, on the other hand, works specifically with military veterans (view here) and athletes (view here) and can provide a more effective strategy that is juxtaposed to be both holistic and highly targeted at the same time.

    Ready to combat chronic inflammation and cooccurring concerns with CBT? Reach out via the contacts provided below to begin your journey towards greater mental and physical wellness.

    CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


    Email [email protected]

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Inflammation