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CBT For Anxiety: How Long It Takes and How It Works

Updated: May 24, 2023

Anxiety prevails in our society, and it is normal in stressful conditions like examinations, facing a crowd, or bad health conditions. Sometimes, fear and worries are extended and become uncontrollable in certain situations. At that time, treatment for anxiety is necessary.

Cognitive Behavioural Theory (CBT) is a practical approach to dealing with psycho patients to reduce the symptoms of mental disorders. It is primarily helpful in treating depression and anxiety disorders.

Is CBT Effective For Anxiety?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the primary treatment for anxiety patients, with a 50-75 % success rate. It has been widely used for reducing anxiety disorders. It is an effective technique to sort out and treat the mental problems associated with depression and anxiety.

CBT is considered better for health anxiety than any other approach. However, the recovery period varies from person to person depending upon the severity of the fear. CBT is also effective for social anxiety and overeating disorders.

How Long Does CBT Take To Work?

Usually, CBT is a short-term psychotherapy approach to upgrade the skills of anxiety patients to think positively and manage their thoughts, feelings and behaviours appropriately to solve mental problems. It takes 6-24 sessions weekly. Each session is about 50-60 minutes.

An authorised and skilled therapist deals with a patient in a super calm environment in single or group sessions to help him manage the symptoms of his anxiety disorder. CBT focus to help anxiety patients by finding the solution to their problems. It aims to enable the patient to develop a healthy response to every stressful condition.

Triggers In CBT For Anxiety

The length of treatment/ success rate is affected by various factors. One of them is the severity of anxiety. Other factors affecting the length of therapy via CBT might include

  • The duration of your stress, whether it is new or chronic

  • Your will and self-confidence to learn new things

  • Your motivation to and which method of CBT is used.

  • Your personality and environment

When the state of mind disturbs you under depressive conditions, and you feel fearful and unhappy, your daily routine gets disturbed. This mental disorder refers to anxiety, and its severity has four levels: the following.

Mild Anxiety

The lower level of distress, fear and worry happens but do not disturb your daily routine. You can manage and sort out the issues with little concentration. In mild anxiety, a disturbance occurs in day-to-day activities with the following symptoms.

  • Lack of focus

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Muscles fatigue

  • Stomachache

Moderate Anxiety

Sometimes, under stress, you stay disturbed most of the day and lose interest in the necessary tasks. Fear increases and becomes painful, and lack of interest starts disturbing the daily routine. Persons with moderate anxiety have few other symptoms.

  • Lack of sleep and feed intake

  • No interest in life

  • Disappointment

  • Laziness and fatigue

  • No concentration on routine work

Severe Anxiety

When fear prevails, feelings of pain and disparity are challenging to manage. A person with severe anxiety suffers panic attacks and can not operate or control his negative emotions. That is why his social life might face relationship failure. The main symptoms of severe anxiety are;

  • Breathing issue

  • No interest in relations

  • Digestive problems start.

  • No focus on a routine task

  • Isolation

Panic Level Anxiety

It is an extreme level of anxiety disorder. Here, a patient with panic disorder feels helpless due to unexpected panic attacks. It happens any time of the day when the patient feels sudden pain. It is an uncontrollable situation, and a patient must seek a counsellor or therapist for treatment. Easily identified symptoms of panic disorder are;

  • Paralysed during a panic attack

  • Senseless and fast heartbeat

  • Suicidal attempts

  • No interest in life

Whatever the level of anxiety you feel at any stage in your life, consulting with a therapist help you a lot to manage your thoughts and feeling to understand the techniques to solve the daily routine issues or stress conditions.

Duration CBT Takes to Treat Mild Anxiety

It takes 3-12 sessions (each comprising 50-60 minutes at the same time and on the same day of the week). However, mild anxiety is controllable, but the healing process of CBT varies from person to person depending upon the personality, personal experience, how long the anxiety issue and gender.

Duration CBT Takes To Treat Moderate Anxiety

With moderate anxiety, you need to visit a reliable therapist who can use his best skills to help you understand the reasons for the anxiety symptoms and enable you to deal with them positively. About 8 or 12 to 24 sessions are enough to bring you back to everyday life, where you can manage your problems well.

Duration CBT Takes To Treat Severe Anxiety

Depending upon the time you have been experiencing the extreme signs of anxiety, the length of treatment is longer than mild and moderate anxiety. It usually takes 12-24 sessions, and in some cases, it may need additional sessions. Every person has different stamina for facing the stressful condition.

CBT is the best treatment for severe anxiety. A therapist can counsel the patient with or without medication, motivating them to use new strategies to sort and solve the issues.

Duration CBT Takes To Treat Panic-Level Anxiety

7-14 sessions are required to treat a patient with unexpected panic attacks. Not all patients recover in a similar time frame. CBT can also take 6-24 sessions for patients with chronic anxiety to omit negative thoughts, put forward positive feelings, and manage behaviours. It might collaborate with counselling and medication.

What Anxiety Disorder Can Cbt Treat?

CBT is a good and trusted approach in psychotherapy to treat anxiety disorder or related problems and help you to spend your everyday, healthy and productive life. You can treat primary mental stress due to continuous fear of certain unaccepted situations via CBT. It can also treat Primary anxiety disorders and other stress-related mental issues can be treated successfully. Here is the list of anxiety disorders CBT can treat.

  • Generalised anxiety disorder

  • Panic Phobia

  • Phobias like social phobias, including height phobia and flying phobia

  • Agoraphobia is when a patient feels embracement in a public gathering or a secure place where he feels the escape is impossible. Some people are uncomfortable in the crowd.

  • Social Phobia or Social Anxiety disorder

  • Breakup anxiety disorder

The Cognitive Behavioural technique also treats other stress-related conditions, including the following:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a stress-related psychiatric disorder after traumatic events.

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD

  • Adjustment Disorder

  • Selective Mutism and Acute stress disorder are the conditions CBT treat effectively.

Cognitive behavioural therapy also helps with overeating disorders. Learn more about how cbt helps with binge eating disorders.

CBT Techniques To Treat Anxiety Disorder

For treating anxiety disorder, various CBT techniques are used. The objectives of all methods are to find reasons for the anxiety and to improve the skills to manage the negative thoughts.

Not all patients have the same intensity of disorder, which is why it is unclear which technique will work efficiently. If you are looking for a skilled therapist for CBT, hiring the experienced one with unique methods that work for most patients is essential. Let’s discuss a few CBT techniques we use at our clinic.


It is how a therapist informs patients about anxiety conditions and the therapy method. This process also includes learning a few techniques to identify the reasons for anxiety and to follow the strategies to cope with these symptoms.

Our experienced therapists communicate with the patients in a comfortable environment, one-on-one or in a group, and make them aware of their condition.

Relaxation Strategies

In this technique, a therapist helps a patient to learn (self-help) how to manage anxiety. Our therapist teaches anxiety patients to cope with stressful situations better through calm breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. The daily practice relaxes the mind and helps deal with the anxiety symptoms more efficiently.

Tracking Thought Pattern

A simple and widely used CBT technique; helps to sort out negative thoughts, emotions and behaviours that considerably impact your feelings and daily life. A therapist deals with the client to figure out the anxiety symptoms and encourages him to learn skills to overcome his emotions and escape the miserable condition.

  • Stopping Negative Thoughts is one of the helpful techniques to divert your thinking by eliminating the negative thoughts with verbal or visual signs like no or stop. If you experience a stressful and worrying condition, you start coping and replacing the problematic characteristics with a positive approach.

  • Reframing And Restructuring Thought Patterns is another tool to teach clients to think positively about matters and reframe their thinking patterns.

Exposure Therapy

CBT help a client to come out of the stress, depression and fear of certain situations. Most people avoid the problem where they face fear. But exposure therapy is a valuable technique in which a client and the therapist work together in repetitive sessions providing a fearful situation. Gradual exposure to difficult conditions helps the client to cope with the fear.

Journaling/ Writing Down The Routine

Your emotions, feelings, thoughts and behaviour might affect anxiety in certain situations. If you note the details about the daily routine, your brain starts thinking over the case. You will better understand your level, and the therapist will understand the client and deal accordingly. Our therapist conduct sessions with the client with mutual understanding and to get stress relief.

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