STARS Patient Information
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a talking treatment directed at the ways you respond to and cope with present difficulties. It is based on understanding the impact of particular situations on what we think, on what we do (or avoid), our physical feelings and our emotions.
Why consider CBT?
Syncope is a common condition and can impose a considerable impact on an individual’s quality of life. People with recurrent syncope report significant levels of psychological distress about intrusive and disabling symptoms (fatigue, blackouts, nausea), losses and changes in roles (work, health, activities) and challenges to independence (relationships, mobility and sense of self). Many patients with syncope experience troubling anxiety with worry and fear associated with their symptoms, some report panic and others experience depression. This is not surprising given the unpredictability of the condition, possible triggers and potential impact it can have on confidence about everyday tasks. While some people seem to push on in spite of it, others find it a frustrating, disabling condition. Furthermore, psychological distress has been found to have an effect on response to medical treatment and advice – people who are more distressed tend to respond less well to treatment.
How is CBT beneficial?
Addressing the psychological responses to syncope is important, as it is with other long term conditions. There is evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) results in improvements in emotional distress and disability in reflex syncope and other physical conditions such as irritable bowel, pain and fatigue. It is a therapy that supports a self management approach to coping with the condition and uses tried and tested methods. CBT has been found to be one of the most effective treatments for conditions where anxiety, frustration and depression are significant problems.
Read Christopher's story of how CBT helped him overcome his fears.