Cognitive Behavior Therapy May Be A More Effective Treatment For Health Anxiety

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A recent study may bring notable changes to how one anxiety disorder is treated. Researchers from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience in the Karolinska Insitutet, have found that exposure-based cognitive behavior therapy via the internet is significantly more effective in the treatment of health anxiety compared to active psychological treatment with relaxation and stress management.

healthanxietyHealth anxiety is an anxiety disorder that comes from an obsessive preoccupation with being seriously ill. This becomes a clinical condition when the constant worry about health begins to cause distress and inability to properly function.

This study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, comes after previous research indicated health anxiety can potentially be treated with an exposure-based cognitive therapy via the internet, during which patients expose themselves to circumstances that cause health anxiety in a controlled environment.

In the study, the researchers compared this form of treatment to active psychological treatment based on relaxation and stress management over the course of 13 weeks, using 158 participants in total.

While the participants considered both treatments to be equally effective, the participants availing both the treatments reported a reduction in health anxiety to a greater extent with exposure-based therapy.

“More people can be treated since the treatment time per patient is significantly lower than for traditional treatment. Internet treatment is independent of physical distance and, in time, this means that treatment can be administered to people who live in rural areas or in places where there is no outpatient psychiatry with access to psychologists with CBT expertise,” said PhD and licensed psychologist Erik Hedman, who led the study.

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