Lady Gaga Reveals She Started Dialectical Behavior Therapy After a Psychotic Break

Sometimes we may need a hand to get control over our emotional and mental health. That's when things like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) come into play. CBT—also known as talk therapy—is intended to help you focus on your problems and work through your issues. DBT is a type of cognitive therapy that focuses on how to respond at the moment for those with intense emotional reactions, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Lady Gaga and DBT

There's no denying it: Lady gaga is a powerhouse. In the past few years, not only has she continued cranking out music, but she's also received critical acclaim for her role as Ally in A Star is Born, and recently launched her makeup brand, Haus Laboratories.

But now, the pop star is opening up—to Oprah Winfrey, no less—about her struggles with mental and physical health—and she's not holding anything back. In an interview for Elle, Gaga revealed just how much she identified with her A Star is Born character Ally, due to the trauma she's experienced in her life.

"I was raped when I was 19 years old, repeatedly," she said, also bringing up her fibromyalgia diagnosis. "I have PTSD. I have chronic pain. Neuropathic pain trauma response is a weekly part of my life. I'm on medication; I have several doctors," she explained.

At one point, Gaga said she thought she'd never totally recover from her trauma—and eventually, she had a "psychotic break." A psychotic break is essentially an episode of psychosis when a person loses touch with reality, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

"It was one of the worst things that have ever happened to me," she said. "I didn't understand what was going on, because my whole body went numb. I fully dissociated. I was screaming, and then he calmed me down and gave me medication for when that happens—olanzapine."

Gaga went on to say that she still takes olanzapine—a mood stabilizer—since that experience. "It helped me that day, and that man [her psychiatrist] and all my friends, they saved my life," she said.

In the interview with Oprah, Gaga also revealed that, in addition to her medications, she also relies on dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT). "I actually have a teacher," she said. "I think that DBT is a wonderful, wonderful way to deal with mental health issues."

How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Helps

Originally developed to help those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) or individuals that are chronically suicidal, DBT is a type of psychotherapy now used to treat everything from eating disorders and substance abuse to PTSD and depression. "It's a really strong way of learning how to live, and it's a guide to understanding your emotions," Gaga explained about it.

Adam Carmel, PhD, clinical professor of psychology at the University of Washington previously told Health that the form of psychotherapy— talk therapy—teaches people new ways of regulating their emotions and tolerating distress. "It incorporates a lot of mindfulness," he said, "and skills for being able to control your thoughts, rather than your thoughts controlling you."

Gaga's treatment plan of including DBT with her prescribed medication is essentially the gold standard of mental health treatments. "medicine works, but you need medicine with the therapy for it to really work because there's a part that you have to do yourself," she said.

Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, a clinical psychotherapist agrees: "I always recommend my patients engage in some sort of psychotherapy when they are being prescribed medications to treat their conditions," he says.

While medication is often necessary for treating the chemical aspect of mental health issues, talk therapy is needed to get to the root of the emotional causes. "Patients need to learn new ways of managing their conditions, develop healthier interpersonal skills and learn to tolerate emotional discomfort in healthy and healing relationships with other human beings," he points out. "Psychotherapy provides these benefits."

Clearly, Gaga's openness sends an important message to anyone struggling with mental health issues: It's okay—and, yes, even normal—to ask for help if you need it—sometimes in more ways than one.

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