An Overview of Treatment Options for Anxiety and Depression

 

Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health disorders in the U.S., affecting 6.7% and 18.1% of American adults each year, respectively. The percentage of adolescents aged 12-18 struggling with anxiety is approximately 25.1% and 9.1% for depression. It’s not uncommon to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression at the same time. These conditions are like flip sides of the same coin. In fact, nearly 50% of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety. Although these two conditions are different, they may share similar symptoms, including exhaustion, physical symptoms (including stomach pain and headache), and feelings of despair.

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Depression and anxiety disorders are very treatable. If you or a loved one received this dual diagnosis, there are lots of ways to get help. Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan for your needs.

Effective Treatment Options for Anxiety and Depression

Medication

There are many types of drugs available for patients experiencing anxiety, depression, or both. Because these disorders overlap in many ways, they can both be treated with the same medication. Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant that treats both conditions, such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

SSRIs are a class of medications that block the reabsorption or reuptake of serotonin, resulting in increased serotonin in the brain. Some examples include:

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluoxetine (Sarafem, Prozac, Symbyax)

SNRIs are similar to SSRIs in that they too increase the level of serotonin. However, they also increase norepinephrine, which is a major component of the brain’s stress response.  Some examples include:

  • Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)

 

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Serotonin and norepinephrine are substances used by the brain to send messages between nerve cells. They are also called neurotransmitters or chemical messengers. Antidepressants work by preventing the neurotransmitters from being reabsorbed by the nerve cell that released it.

Your healthcare provider may also prescribe anxiety medications or mood stabilizers when antidepressants don’t work by themselves. In some cases, a combination of antidepressants from different classes may be necessary. If an antidepressant does not work, it can be combined with a different type of medication, such as atypical antipsychotics or mood stabilizers to boost the effects.

The type of drug prescribed will depend on which anxiety disorder you have or how severe your depression is. Keep in mind that side effects vary and it may take a few weeks or months for the medication to become fully effective.

Psychotherapy

Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy is an effective treatment option for anxiety and depression. It may not be enough to treat severe mental illnesses, but it can be very effective when used with medications and other treatments. Psychotherapy can help you recover from depression and anxiety by:

  • uncovering the underlying causes of your condition,
  • resolving personal issues,
  • learning how to relax,
  • addressing issues in less frightening or depressive ways,
  • learning ways to talk about your condition, and
  • learning better coping and problem-solving skills.

Psychotherapy gives you the instruments you need to overcome anxiety and depression and also teaches you how to use them, making it easier for you to stick to your treatment plan.

There are many different approaches that mental health care providers can take to provide therapy for anxiety and depression.  The right treatment for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms, the suspected underlying factors contributing to the condition, your therapy goals, and your own personal preferences. The most common therapy techniques used in depression and anxiety include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and interpersonal therapy. While each of these therapy techniques may be used alone, a blended approach is often used.

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  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the most widely used therapy for depression and anxiety disorders. At the thought of cognitive behavioral therapy is the idea that our emotions can be affected by our thoughts. Negative thoughts can contribute to and worsen anxiety and depression. It’s not easy to feel good when you’re stuck in a circle of negative thoughts. CBT works by helping people suffering from psychological problems to identify and change patterns and perceptions that undermine their sense of well-being.

CBT addresses learned patterns of unhelpful behavior, as well as unhelpful or faulty ways of thinking that lead to troublesome feelings. With this, you’ll learn to face your fears, calm your mind and relax your body, prepare for potentially problematic interactions with other people, and most importantly, identify patterns of negative thinking, challenge them, and turn them into more realistic ones to improve your mood.

  • Psychodynamic Therapy

Sometimes known as psychoanalytic therapy, psychodynamic therapy is based on the assumption that anxiety and depression are caused by unresolved internal psychological conflicts, usually rooted in childhood. The main objective of this therapy is to help patients be aware of all their emotions, including troubling and contradictory ones, and to help them bear these feelings and cope effectively.

Unlike other therapy treatment options for depression and anxiety, psychodynamic therapy tends to be less focused and long-term. It may be useful for individuals with a lifelong history and pattern of poor coping skills as well as self-injurious and negative behavior. The psychodynamic approach can be useful for identifying links to past experiences and evaluating how they might be causing feelings of anxiety and depression. As such, you’ll be able to build your self-awareness and increase emotional capacities.

  • Interpersonal Therapy

Poor social support and interpersonal conflict can also contribute to anxiety and depression. Interpersonal therapy focuses on how past and present relationships with family and friends play a role in causing and exacerbating depression and anxiety. The primary goal of this therapy is to increase self-esteem and communication skills during a short period of time. Interpersonal therapy is usually brief and works well for anxiety and depression caused by relationship conflicts, mourning, social isolation, and major life events (such as becoming a caregiver or a mother). The hope is that you’ll be able to resolve conflicts and build a stronger social support system.

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Take Some Steps on Your Own

In addition to a formal treatment plan from your healthcare provider, there are some steps you can take to manage your anxiety symptoms. The goal of managing anxiety and depression is to incorporate different treatment options that will work together.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself
  • Create a daily routine
  • Stick to a sleep schedule
  • Change your diet and eat nutritious food
  • Exercise or take a walk around the block
  • Incorporate relaxation techniques
  • Do something that can distract your brain and bring you comfort

You don’t have to put up with unusual thoughts, feelings, and other symptoms of anxiety or depression. At EZCare Clinic, we diagnose and treat these and other mental health disorders. Contact us to schedule an appointment for comprehensive treatment to help you manage anxiety or depression and lead a fulfilling life.

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