Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy. CBT emphasises how a person responds to problems both through the way they think and act. CBT is a coaching process that can help an individual to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviour. By learning to change behaviour and ways of thinking you can manage problems better. In order to change a person must be actively involved in the therapy and practise with new ways of coping with daily life. The therapy is aimed at the present and tries to find practical ways to deal with symptoms and problems. Specific goals are formulated as part of the therapy; the individual and therapist work together in reaching these goals. These principles can be used to help people with long-term health conditions.

How can CBT help patients with DM1?

CBT can help people to learn new behaviours and ways of coping with the symptoms of the disease.  This therapy can help to reduce symptoms such as fatigue and help people to deal with these symptoms better. By doing so the negative impact conditions such as DM1 has on daily life can be reduced.

CBT in OPTIMISTIC aims to:

  • Reduce fatigue by changing the thoughts and behaviour that can unintentionally maintain fatigue. Examples of these are changing your sleep-wake pattern or trying to increase the level of physical activity. This approach has been successful in reducing fatigue in people dealing with a range of other chronic diseases.
  • Teach people how to compensate for problems in taking initiative or starting an activity, e.g. by learning to schedule your activities.
  • Work together with significant others to discover how to best manage the impact DM1 has on daily life.

The OPTIMISTIC trial will develop a protocol that is tailored specifically to people with DM1. The value of this new treatment for DM1 will be tested throughout the OPTIMISTIC trial. We hope that this will enable patients to become more active and better deal with the symptoms of the illness. In doing this we aim to improve quality of life.

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