Selena Gomez: Anxiety, Depression and DBT That Changed Her Life

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Selena Gomez: Anxiety, Depression and DBT That Changed Her Life

It has been reported by the magazine “Peoplethat Selena Gomez who has been suffering from poor mental health for so many years now, is getting treated with dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). She sought treatment after going through an emotional breakdown. The 26-year old has been hospitalized two times in the last some weeks- her white blood cells count went low due to lupus.

Gomez ratified DBT [1] last year after going through a kidney transplant for lupus. Lupus is an auto immune disease in which the immune system attacks the healthy body cells. In 2017, she was quoted as saying that DBT has completely changed her life. During the interview, she said that she spent three months at a psychiatric facility in Tennessee where she underwent solo and group therapy with six other girls.

She says that although it was the hardest thing ever done by her, she feels it was the best decision of her life. Although she did not tell much about the treatment, it was certain that she was seeing the specialist at least five days a week for DBT.

The cause for Gomez’s breakdown is unclear. Maybe it was because of the low white blood cell count. As per Mayo Clinic, low white blood cell count could result in tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness or weakness and all this could lead to a vicious cycle of depression and anxiety.

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What Is DBT?

Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT [2] which is a cognitive behavioral treatment. It came into effect in the 1980s. Linehan, director behavioral research and Therapy Clinics, developed DBT for people who do not respond to conventional psychotherapies. DBT focuses on psychotherapy and group skills training that can be imparted to people for development of new strategies which will enhance their life’s quality.

What Is DBT? 

As per Adam Carmel, Professor- University of Washington, Linehan developed DBT mostly for people who were suffering from borderline personality disorder [3] or had suicidal tendencies. Originally, it was used for treatment of people who were suicidal and did not respond to the traditional psychotherapies.

DBT also makes use of Linehan’s training as a Zen Master, which incorporated Buddhist concepts of mindfulness and acceptance. So, while working to resolve the problematic thoughts and behaviors of clients, they also try to understand the client’s present situation, where they are and what is making them struggle and at the same time provide solutions and fixes to those problems and struggles.

DBT is about balancing change with acceptance. It makes people learn where they are, enabling them to learn new ways to change problematic behaviors.

Usefulness of DBT

The first study about DBT came out in 1991 and since then there have been 35 randomized controlled trials which depict that it is useful for a range of mental health conditions other than suicidal tendencies and borderline personality disorder. These include eating disorders, PTSD, substance abuse [4], depression and anxiety.

Usefulness of DBT

Gomez did not reveal why she sought DBT, but it is clear from her public statements that she was struggling from depression and anxiety.

What Is DBT All About and What Is the Time Duration?

DBT is an intensive treatment for outpatient therapy which takes place over the duration of about a year. The treatment entails weekly individual therapy, weekly group skills training, coaching by an expert over phone. It is a team- based approach, so there is a team meeting as well.

In a year’s time, people go through the skills twice, that DBT has to impart. It is a group session and it is about regulating difficult emotions, equipping with ways to tolerate stressful situations and crisis management without worsening the things, and learning the art of communicating effectively in relationships. Mindfulness is also taught which helps them control their thoughts instead of their thoughts controlling them.

What Is DBT All About and What Is the Time Duration? 

Where Can You Get DBT?

The clinician must go through intensive training to learn the skills of DBT. It is offered in many metal illness treatment centers, Veteran Health Administration, treatment facilities for substance abuse.

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It is the standard treatment for borderline personality disorders, so it is there in many inpatient settings. This way they can get more intense treatment, says Carmel. He further adds that DBT is going to expand in the future, as it is gaining more popularity. There is growing evidence for it and research is also being done in this context. We are getting to know that it can treat a range of mental health conditions. So, it focuses on making a life worth living than simply treating suicidal ideation.

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