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Dialectical behavior therapy: What is it and who can it help?

Saturday, March 23rd 2024 10:00am 2 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

Understanding Emotional Intensity and Regulation

Experiencing feelings like sadness, anxiety, or anger occasionally is part of what it means to be human. However, some individuals—or those we care about—might find themselves feeling these emotions more readily, more often, and with greater intensity compared to others. This heightened emotional response, known as emotional dysregulation, is a key feature of numerous mental health disorders, notably borderline personality disorder (BPD). Among the treatments for BPD, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) stands out for its effectiveness, not only for BPD but for a range of emotional challenges.

Introduction to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a therapeutic approach designed to equip individuals with the tools needed to manage intense emotions, navigate difficult situations, and enhance interpersonal relationships. It integrates mindfulness practices to foster a nonjudgmental, compassionate stance in individuals undergoing therapy. Both in individual and group settings, therapists emphasize acceptance and mindfulness, aiming to help participants apply these skills in everyday life.

Combatting Chronic Inflammation

Beyond its mental health benefits, adopting mindful practices, akin to those taught in DBT, can also be instrumental in mitigating chronic inflammation—a contributor to various serious health conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Mindfulness and stress management techniques can offer a protective shield against the adverse effects of persistent low-grade inflammation.

The Role of Mindfulness in Managing Emotions

Mindfulness, a core component of DBT, encourages individuals to observe their thoughts and emotions objectively, without attaching personal significance to them. This approach helps individuals challenge and reframe negative self-perceptions, fostering a healthier emotional landscape.

DBT vs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

While DBT shares roots with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), it distinguishes itself by validating the individual’s feelings and thoughts rather than labeling them as distortions. This validation process, fundamental to DBT, acknowledges the legitimacy of the individual’s emotional experiences, fostering a more inclusive therapeutic environment.

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