According to the World Health Organization, approximately 41 million people die every year due to chronic illnesses that are a direct result of chosen lifestyles and behaviors. Of course, advancing age is also a contributing factor, but the majority of culprits are elective behaviors, including tobacco, alcohol, sedentary lifestyle, stress, and unhealthy diet.
When your habits threaten your health, behavior therapy can help. Our expert team of specialists at Alpha Care Medical in Delaware understands the mind-body relationship and can guide you through the treatments options best suited for your unique needs. Often, that’s a combination of functional medicine, behavioral therapy, psychiatry, and pain management.
Here’s what you need to know about behavioral therapy and when to seek this type of care for your condition or symptoms.
The difference between behavioral health and mental health
It’s easy to confuse the terms “behavioral health” and “mental health,” especially when medical professionals tend to use them interchangeably. The truth is, they are closely related, but there are some significant differences.
Behavioral health refers to the connection between what you do and how your body responds physically. For example, eating spicy food may trigger acid reflux, or lack of exercise may lead to weight gain.
Behavioral health also encompasses mental health, which means it covers conditions that have a link between what you do and how your mind responds. For example, if you work in a high-stress job, it may lead to anxiety or depression.
Often, the connection between behavior and physical/mental result isn’t voluntary, but a matter of environment or trauma. For example, some mental disorders, such as phobias, may stem from a one-time event, but the repercussions affect your ability to function normally and may have physical effects as well, such as racing heart, nausea, shortness of breath, etc.
The bottom line is that your body, mind, and actions are interconnected, and behavioral therapy can help you discover the links and make positive changes.
Conditions that may warrant behavioral health therapy
Many conditions can benefit from behavioral health therapy. Here are a few of them.
The Anxiety & Depression Association of America estimates that about 264 million people around the world live with depression and more than 17 million Americans have suffered from at least one episode of major depression.
Biological and physical factors are known to trigger depression, just as depression can exacerbate symptoms of medical conditions, particularly cancer, chronic pain, heart disease, and diabetes.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you focus on your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors to influence your moods and actions, and therefore your physical health.
If you suffer from panic attacks, phobias, and obsessive thoughts, you may have an anxiety disorder. Behavioral therapy gets to the root cause of your anxiety and helps you overcome the debilitating fears and worries by giving you the tools to cope.
Our team can help you understand why you feel anxious, learn how to look at threatening situations differently, and help you develop problem-solving skills that address your unique set of triggers.
Alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs top the list of elective substances that harm your health. There are plenty of toxins in the environment that can make you sick, but these three represent conscious choices or behaviors.
Substance abuse treatment is complex and won’t be solved by behavioral therapy alone, but it compliments your other treatments by teaching you to change your patterns of thinking.
Chronic health conditions
Noncommunicable diseases, also known as chronic diseases, are the number one cause of death around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, behavioral risk factors contribute to the problem significantly, including obesity, alcohol, smoking, and lack of exercise.
Cognitive behavioral therapy identifies obstacles that hinder your ability to make healthy choices for your body and mind.
Up to 90% of all doctor’s appointments are related to stress in one way or another. Whether you work under pressure every day, have a challenging relationship, struggle with finances, or experienced a severe loss, stress can manifest in many ways, including physical and mental disorders, such as:
- Heart problems
- Skin conditions
- Sleep disorders
Behavioral therapy gives you the ability to reduce stress and cope with it in a healthy way so you can prevent or better manage stress-related conditions.
If you’re suffering from any of these conditions, behavioral therapy may need to be a key part of your treatment. To find out more, schedule a consultation with our behavioral therapy specialists at Alpha Care Medical today; we have four Delaware locations to serve you in Seaford, Millsboro, Harrington, and Dover.