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Behavioral Activation Therapy for Anxiety and Insomnia

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Anxiety and insomnia go hand-in-hand for many people. This is not surprising because anxiety is a very common and normal reaction to stressful situations. Anxiety is able to trigger the body’s stress response (also called the “fight-or-flight” response). This is the survival mechanism that prepares the body to respond to any threat, which is why anxiety can be a very positive and adaptive response to stressful situations.

However, for people with an anxiety disorder, anxiety is triggered in response to situations that are not life-threatening. The fight-or-flight response is triggered inappropriately (i.e., when there is no actual threat to survival), which leads to excessive stress. This can then lead to a variety of unwanted physical symptoms, such as poor sleep.

This is because the internal physiological processes that occur during anxiety also occur during sleep. Both are capable of activating the stress response.

Therefore, it is not surprising that many people experience insomnia and anxiety together.

What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety and Insomnia?

There are several physical and mental symptoms that are common to both insomnia and anxiety.

Common symptoms of insomnia and anxiety include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Sleeping too much
  • Difficulty maintaining wakefulness
  • Mental cloudiness
  • Frequent worry
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Feelings of being “on edge” or “hyper”
  • Physical symptoms
  • Sore or tense muscle
  • Poor digestion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Dizziness

There are several possible ways to treat insomnia and anxiety

The most common therapy used to treat insomnia and anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT involves teaching people how to change their thoughts and behaviors to reduce the impact of stress and anxiety. In addition to CBT techniques, medications are often prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety, but they are not always effective and can have side effects. More recently, behavioral activation (BA) has been shown to be effective in reducing insomnia and anxiety in people who have chronic insomnia and anxiety.

Behavioral activation treatment

A new study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology indicates that BA can reduce insomnia and anxiety in a group of people with chronic insomnia and anxiety. This study involved 20 people who had insomnia and anxiety. Participants were randomly assigned to either a CBT treatment group or a BA treatment group. BA involves teaching people how to focus on positive emotions and rewarding activities.

Participants were taught to identify and pursue positive emotions and rewarding activities. They were then taught to use these positive emotions and rewarding experiences to reduce the impact of stress and anxiety.

What is behavioral activation (BA)?

Behavioral activation is an effective treatment for depression. BA focuses on changing behaviors and thoughts that are tied to depression. It is a short-term intervention that is usually completed over a three- to six-month period.

Behavioral activation (BA) helps individuals change their behaviors in order to feel better. It can help change the way one thinks about oneself, others, and the world.

The goal of BA is to help people with depression to engage in life activities. Behavioral activation (BA) therapy is also called “positive behavior therapy,” “behavior therapy,” and “behavioral activation.”

The goal of BA therapy is to help people with depression to engage in life activities.

How does behavioral activation (BA) work

Behavioral activation (BA) for depression works by helping people change how they think about themselves, others, and the world by helping them realize what their goals are in life. BA helps individuals to identify what is important to them and to focus on those goals

Behavioral activation (BA) also helps people with depression to move from “negative” to “positive” thoughts.

What are the goals of behavioral activation (BA)

The goals of behavioral activation (BA) are to help people:

  1. Change their behaviors
  2. Change their thoughts.
  3. Change their attitudes.
  4. Change their feelings.
  5. Change their overall response to the world.
  6. Increase their self-esteem.
  7. Increase their confidence.
  8. Increase their feelings of self-worth.
  9. Increase their feelings of happiness.
  10. Increase their feelings of joy.
  11. Increase their feelings of optimism.
  12. Increase their feelings of pleasure.

Behavioral activation (BA) therapy helps people to:

  1. Engage in previously avoided activities.
  2. Become more involved in life.
  3. Engage in pleasurable activities.
  4. Participate in life.
  5. Change their attitudes.
  6. Start living.
  7. Start moving forward.

Behavioral activation (BA) therapy helps people to identify their “best” thoughts, feelings, and attitudes.

Behavioral activation (BA) therapy has five steps. These are:

  1. Develop a life vision.
  2. Develop a life plan.
  3. Set short-term goals.
  4. Set long-term goals.
  5. Take action every day towards your goals.

Behavioral activation (BA) therapy is a method that helps people to live a happier and more satisfying life. It helps people to “do” the things that are important to them. It can help people with depression to stop feeling so sad, hopeless, helpless, worthless, and guilty. It also helps people feel better about themselves and their lives, their past, future, goals, and life.

Behavioral activation (BA) therapists are also trained to help people with depression to change how they think about themselves, how they think about others, and how they think about the world.

Results of the study

The results of this study indicate that both interventions were effective in reducing insomnia and anxiety. However, the results also indicated that behavioral activation may be more effective in reducing insomnia and anxiety. The researchers noted that people who were in the BA group experienced a reduction in insomnia and anxiety symptoms.

People in the BA group also had a reduction in depression symptoms. There was no reduction in depression symptoms for people in the CBT group. The researchers noted that both interventions were associated with an increase in positive emotions and rewarding experiences. However, the BA group also experienced an increase in positive emotions and rewarding experiences.

Other treatment options for insomnia and anxiety

There are several other treatments for insomnia and anxiety such as the use of weighted blankets. People who have difficulty sleeping may find relief by using relaxation techniques such as meditation. There are also a variety of herbs that may be used to help reduce stress and anxiety.  

Sources:

Barker, A.J. et al. Behavioral Activation Treatment for Insomnia and Anxiety in Chronic Insomnia. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2016.

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