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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in the treatment of obesity

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The Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, together with a correct physical training plan and an appropriate diet plan, is shown as a very effective alternative in weight loss.

Therefore, and contrary to what many individuals think, the training of people with overweight and obesity requires not only intervention in the technical aspects related to training and nutrition, but the fulfillment of the objectives and, above all, the maintenance of the results, It will also depend on the correct management of emotions, customs and habits, beliefs or motivation.

The multifactorial and chronic nature of obesity requires a multidisciplinary program

There are many causes that cause obesity. Its multifactorial and chronic nature that, on many occasions, is accompanied by comorbidity, force not to claim a quick and definitive solution for this problem. No one can doubt the importance of a proper fitness plan and diet plan, but it is necessary to pay attention to the psychological component, since on many occasions they can be seen associated 

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Eating Disorders (Eating Disorders), anxiety disorders or mood disorders such as depression, among other pathologies.

Therefore, this very varied and complex context requires treatment in which you must prioritize a multidisciplinary program, rather than separate solutions.

Obesity causes serious health problems

Many of the individuals who seek a solution to the problem of obesity are motivated by a makeover, putting aside the problems for their own health. On many occasions, they think that with an adequate diet and a routine of physical exercise to lose weight, the problem will be solved, bypassing other areas of your life that are just as important.

When "losing kilos" is approached more as an image problem and treatment is directed in this direction, this vision biased allows avoiding the modification of life habits and behavior, which are the ones that will ultimately yield long-term benefits term. Scientific studies indicate that, in these cases, only between 20% and 30% of patients with obesity manage to maintain the results achieved in the long term. But worse still, during the first year, 30% of people who have undergone a plan to reduce obesity regain the lost weight, and more than 50% gain a weight greater than the initial one after 3-5 years.

Group and individual psychotherapy, both useful for the treatment of obesity

The therapeutic approach can be applied both in groups and individually, although each approach must be carried out in different situations.

The group therapy It will be useful for the communication of experiences and to educate the patient, since it provides knowledge about the importance of prioritizing health over aesthetics is useful to maintain long-term results term. Individualized therapy is necessary in cases in which the patient must receive treatment for issues such as perception of body image, self-esteem, impulsivity, problem solving style or mood disorders.

Motivation and psychoeducation to prepare the patient for therapy

Scientific data support the theory that psychological treatment combined with diet and exercise programs provides better results. The problem arises because many still think that exercise and nutrition programs will be enough to achieve success. Therefore, there are two key elements in this process, and they are highly interrelated: motivation and the psychoeducation.

The importance of motivation

The motivation It is a key aspect of success in any type of task, and it is a necessary prerequisite when going to group therapy for the treatment of obesity. As already mentioned, the main objective of many individuals continues to be physical achievement, since the Doctors' warning for weight loss (because it causes health problems) is often poorly displayed effective.

For many, participating in a psychotherapy group is not in their initial planning. And although psychotherapy is effective in overcoming many problems, including obesity, On many occasions the person who needs help is not aware that they have the problem, avoids facing reality or has false beliefs about what the problem is.psychotherapy.

It is important, therefore, and to keep patients motivated, that they value the benefits not only on the physical level, but also on a general level. Having high expectations due to misinformation is a source of dissatisfaction that can cause failure and disinterest in the follow-up of treatment, due to feelings of frustration and demotivation. What's more, This negatively affects their own self-confidence, necessary to successfully exceed the objectives set..

One way to solve this problem can be the motivational interview, a directive, client-centered style of interaction aimed at helping people and encouraging them to compare the advantages and disadvantages of harmful habits that cause overweight and obesity, thus causing changes positive.

Psychoeducation is a key element to achieve long-term results

A psychoeducational program is necessary for the correct development of motivation, both in the short term and for the maintenance of the results obtained. It is quite common that people with obesity have already tried diets and training plans without success. desired results in the past, and often have excessive but inadequate information about diet or exercise physical.

On many occasions, they tend to have "infoxication" due to the culture of aesthetics. They think that the results will come quickly and have thoughts about unreal weight changes, the result of their irrational beliefs. In a culture that values ​​image as one of the keys to personal success and social acceptance, it is not surprising that this is so.

Therefore, and to avoid inappropriate thoughts and expectations, the patient must attend psychoeducational sessions, in order to have knowledge about food, the influence of emotions on behavior or physical exercise and health.

The application of individual programs of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

On many occasions, people with obesity suffer comorbidity with certain psychological disorders that can interfere with the evolution and treatment of the program and, therefore, it is necessary detect them. For example, the presence of Eating Disorders is common (for example, Binge eating disorder), night eater syndrome or depression. This requires individualized treatment from the beginning of the program to ensure correct adherence to treatment and achievement of the objectives set.

Other types of problems, such as: low self-esteem, impulsivity or negative problem-solving styles, may also require individualized therapy. For this, different cognitive-behavioral techniques are usually used.

These are the most common:

  • Self-control techniques: Self-observation, record sheets, realistic goal setting, or stimulus control are techniques that have proven effective in this area.
  • Cognitive restructuring: The Aaron Beck cognitive restructuring programs, Albert ellis or other authors, can help the patient to have knowledge about their own emotions or thoughts in front of the different problem situations, as well as detecting irrational thoughts and replacing them with more ideas or beliefs adaptive.
  • Work lights: Work on self-esteem, self-efficacy beliefs, body image perception, achievement reinforcement is beneficial for obesity treatment.
  • Development of difficulties management skills: It is positive for the patient to acquire knowledge about alternative behaviors to eating, social skills training, assertiveness or stress management strategies.
  • Reassessment and Feedback: Especially useful for monitoring and evolving changes.

Psychological tricks to lose weight

You may be interested in taking a look at this article:

"10 psychological tricks to lose weight"

Bibliographic references:

  • Lafuente, M.D., (2011) Eating Disorders 14. 1490-1504.
  • Wing, R.R., Phelan, S., (2005) Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 82 Suppl 1: 222–225.

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