Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: A treatment Approach for Suicidal Behavior

October 8, 2018 | 10:31 pm | Kaitlin McGlone Vonderschmitt, Leave your thoughts
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: A treatment Approach for Suicidal Behavior

Even though there is increased information and acceptance of mental health problems, the adversity concerning suicide and self-harm among teenagers is still thriving in America. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), more than 40,000 Americans lose their lives because of suicide every year. Suicide is the nation’s 10th leading cause of death, and although, there is no precise data on the number of suicide attempts, more than half a million people were hospitalized due to self-harm injuries in 2015. Furthermore, The National Survey of Drug Use and Mental Health 2016 (NSUDH) also states that one in 100 adults aged 18 or older has attempted at least one suicide attempt.

Presently, there are no specific treatments that target suicidal behavior; however, few studies have exhibited the successful use of antidepressants, contradictory antipsychotics, and lithium in treating and lessening suicide-led deaths in patients with mood disorder. However, since there are no specific tests to pinpoint what exactly is wrong, there is no medicine that could be given to prevent and heal suicidal thoughts.

Apart from medicine, psychotherapy treatments which include Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) have been proven to be constructive for patients with borderline personality disorder and relapsing suicidal behaviors. New research demonstrates that DBT may help control self-harming behavior and prevent death among high-risk teenagers.


What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy deals with opposite and contradictory thoughts and/or behavior. The first step is applying mindfulness practice to acknowledge one’s feelings and the second step is to utilize CBT to alter those feelings.

DBT is a treatment that aims to lessen episodes of self-harm and suicide attempts. Intended to help those with severe emotional instability, DBT concentrates on teaching ways to discern and regulate emotions, to deal with anxiety and to cultivate strategies to handle challenges in life.

According to the Child Mind Institute, DBT skill training include recognizing the symptoms of out-of-control emotions, dealing with challenging situations, effective interaction with people, identifying compulsions, being calculative and culturing practice to adjust and mediate.

The treatment consists of:

  • Weekly individual therapy sessions
  • Weekly Group skills training session with family
  • Discussion between patient and therapist as required

Study exhibits reduction in suicidal behaviors with DBT.

A recent meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences compiled results from several clinical trials that evaluated suicidal attempts and self-harm, non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), suicidal ideation, and identifying psychiatric crisis services. The research highlighted DBT as prioritizing self-directed harm as the target for treatment.


Treatment with DBT helps in preventing suicidal ideations

DBT, a type of CBT, was initially developed by Marsha Linehan, a psychologist at the University of Washington in 1980. Although it was originally aimed to help individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and those at high risk of suicidal attempts, DBT has expanded to treat various other psychological illnesses.

Any mental disorder leading to suicidal ideations can be treated and it is crucial for anyone to seek out help whenever needed. One should refer to a specialist and express his or her doubts without any hesitation and anxiety.

If you are suffering from a mental illness or known anyone that is, please reach out for help withAKUA Mind & Body. At AKUA, we strive to provide those affected with the proper care needed to form a lasting recovery. For more information about AKUA’s treatment programs for men and women with addiction., mental illness, and eating disorders, contact our 24/7 helpline.


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