Suicidal ideation is one of the warning signs regarding mental health and emotional well-being of people, and its presence implies that the risk of attempting to kill oneself is relatively high.
Fortunately, from the world of Psychology, forms of intervention have been developed to help these people. Here we will talk about one of the most effective, cognitive-behavioral therapy .
What is suicidal ideation?
Suicidal ideation is the tendency to think of suicide as a real possibility, or even something clearly desirable and for which one must prepare due to the psychological discomfort that one suffers.
Of course, suicidal ideation does not have clearly defined limits and is presented in a gray scale, which means that this problem can also be detected in those who believe that they do not seriously consider committing suicide, although on numerous occasions they "fantasize" about suicide. idea.
On the other hand, suicidal ideation is not in itself a psychological disorder , but a phenomenon that can occur together with a variety of psychopathologies and psychiatric disorders. Although it is common to associate thoughts of suicide with depression and in fact this disorder greatly increases the chances of developing them, the truth is that these can appear together with other mental disorders, some of which are not even part of the state of mind disorders. cheer up.
In any case, this is a concept belonging to the clinical field and as such it is not possible to self-diagnose suicidal ideation, since only mental health professionals can assess the extent to which this psychological phenomenon is present in a specific person, taking into account its characteristics and its life context.
What is cognitive behavioral therapy?
When we talk about cognitive-behavioral therapy we refer to a set of therapeutic interventions in patients that have one fundamental aspect in common: they are focused on helping people by intervening both on their observable actions and their habits of interaction with the environment, as well as on their way of thinking, feeling and generating and sustaining beliefs.
This is so because those of us who use the cognitive-behavioral intervention model help people under the premise that a synergy must be created between what is done and what is thought, progressing on both fronts so that change for the better is more easy and self-reinforcing, staying in a consistent and constant way in the person's life. In other words, it is easier to develop healthy and adaptive mental processes if at the same time we develop actions that are in line with that psychological transformation.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy was born out of the research of psychologists Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck, who, each in their own way, hypothesized that many of people's psychological problems have to do with the way in which mental schemes of people condition the way in which they interpret what happens to them and even their own identity. In addition, these cognitive schemas predispose people to behave in a way that helps to confirm that way of understanding the world.
But in the same way that the mental affects behavior, the same happens the other way around: changing behaviors and situations to which we expose ourselves contributes to thinking and experiencing emotions differently . Thus, psychological well-being can be favored through this double path, intervening in the ideas and in the habits and exercises to be practiced in order to learn to relate to the world in another way.
How does it apply to people who have suicidal thoughts?
Volumes could be written on the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for people with suicidal ideation, and this article is not intended to go into detail.
In addition, it is important to make clear that this type of therapeutic intervention is not based on a series of fixed instructions to be applied like someone reading a recipe, but rather includes many strategies and techniques and that, in addition, the way in which they are carried out Practice depends on the disorder or problem that the patient presents, the environments and people to whom he is exposed, his personality traits and habits, etc.
Taking the above into account, here we will see some of the keys to understanding what is the role of cognitive-behavioral therapy used in the face of suicidal thoughts, and why it is effective.
1. Helps to understand the emotions linked to those thoughts
Thoughts of suicide are almost always linked to a great emotional charge , but not all the people who experience them are able to understand exactly what are those emotional forces behind suicidal ideation. The latter leads them not to critically analyze the "radical" and clear solutions that occur to them, such as taking their own life.
Given this, cognitive-behavioral therapy enhances self-knowledge through exercises and habits that train patients' skills when it comes to recognizing their own emotions and feelings, as well as their impact on the thoughts that pass through them. head and the habits they adopt to deal with the discomfort generated by some of those sensations.
2. Helps to find new incentive systems
Through cognitive-behavioral therapy, it is easier to find exciting projects and tasks, with the ability to emotionally mobilize the person and lead them to set short and long-term goals regardless of the possibility of suicide. This is so due to the structure of the double path of the cognitive-behavioral model: on the one hand, it favors the person to expose himself to new situations and break the habits linked to suicidal ideation, and on the other hand, an interpretation of the alternate reality that allows you to be more sensitive to the good things life can offer.
3. It goes hand in hand with a healthier lifestyle
Never underestimate the way fitness influences how we feel emotionally. From cognitive-behavioral therapy, a series of guidelines are established so that people with suicidal ideation, many of whom feel very unmotivated at the prospect of doing anything, gradually incorporate healthy habits into their day to day, starting by the simplest and then progressing to more complex behaviors.
The main areas of action are the quality of sleep, good nutrition and maintenance of physical activity as far as possible .
4. It allows to question beliefs that sustain negative biases
Once you have been thinking enough about the idea of suicide, it is common for a logic of self-confirmation to be generated in that pessimistic way of interpreting life, since, although it seems paradoxical, to hold beliefs as opposed as those that support The idea of taking one's own life and at the same time showing that life is worth living, in a certain sense generates as much or more discomfort as giving credit only to the former.
Thus, a confirmation bias is created: everything that happens to us is interpreted as proof that we were right, which in this case means that suicide is the way out.
For this reason, cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people to replace these harmful beliefs with others, and at the same time helps them to live experiences that help them demolish that old frame of thought.
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