Treatment for Anxiety and Depression: What are the Options and Why is it Important?

August 20, 2020

Depression and anxiety are common mental health conditions that touch nearly everyone at one point or another. Whether you personally suffer from depression, anxiety, or both, you for sure know someone else who does and the major impact it has on a person’s life. 

With almost a tenth of the U.S. adult population suffering from depression, and almost 20% suffering from an anxiety disorder, the problem is much more widespread than most realize. 

Depression and anxiety are the two of the most common mental health problems worldwide, but the good news is that these conditions are manageable with the right treatment, which can range anywhere from learning simple relaxation techniques to calm anxiety symptoms, to getting in touch with a mental health professional who can provide additional guidance and help.

There are many different types of treatment for anxiety and depression, and it’s all a matter of finding the right treatment. 

What is depression and what are the symptoms?

While there are several different types of depression, most people who experience depression for an extended period of time suffer from clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder. Clinical depression is diagnosed when the patient experiences persistent and intense feelings of sadness that last for at least two weeks or more, but the period of time can often be longer. 

While many people are familiar with the symptoms caused by depression, which often include loss of interest, feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness, there are physical symptoms that are also associated with depression. It’s common for patients with depression to experience a loss of appetite and changes in sleep. 

When someone experiences clinical depression, they may have trouble performing normal daily activities, may not show interest in doing things that they once enjoyed, and may experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors, which is why suicide prevention resources have also increased along with the percentage of people with some form of depression. 

Symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

  • Difficulty concentrating and low energy
  • Lost of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, or helplessness
  • Feeling sad, empty, or tearful
  • Nervous energy
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Feelings of moving or thinking in slow motion
  • Sleeping and eating more or less than usual

What is anxiety and what are the symptoms?

Like depression, there are several different types of anxiety. However, the most common is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety is a normal feeling for people to experience in various situations and certain times in our lives, but anxiety is considered a mental health problem when these feelings last a long time, interfere with a patient’s quality of life, or become extreme.  Our bodies can sometimes naturally experience anxiety in response to stress, and anxiety is characterized as fear or apprehension about the future. People with GAD experience chronic anxiety that is usually not provoked by a specific situation or fear. Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Restlessness 
  • An increased heart rate
  • Panic attacks (which when recurring, might indicate a panic disorder)
  • Difficulty falling asleep  
  • Rapid breathing
  • Trouble concentrating

Another increasingly common form of anxiety is social anxiety disorder, which has similar attributes to generalized anxiety, though the anxiety is specific to a fear of being judged, rejected, or humiliated, as well as being afraid to offend or face social conflict, making everyday interactions with others extremely difficult both mentally and physically.

What treatment options are available for depression and anxiety?

Depression and anxiety don’t have to be a permanent fixture in your life or the life of a loved one. There are numerous treatment options available that can help both disorders. Because many people suffer from depression and anxiety in tandem, it’s helpful to know that the symptoms of both disorders can often be reduced by the same treatment

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, often referred to as “talk therapy” or just “therapy,” involves speaking with a psychological counselor about the underlying issues, thoughts, and feelings behind depression and anxiety. Contrary to popular belief, there are many different types of psychotherapy available, some of which work best to treat certain conditions and certain people. 

FDA-Approved Prescription Medication

Although some people are uncomfortable with the idea of taking medication for the treatment of mental health, medication is an important tool that can be helpful for many patients. 

Anxiety and depression often coexist, and both disorders can be effectively treated by medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). A few common examples of these you may have heard of include duloxetine, venlafaxine, fluoxetine, and escitalopram.

For many people, medication helps them to feel like they are getting their lives back and can finally function normally. 

In a clinical study looking at how effective antidepressants were, over half of patients who took antidepressants felt an improvement in their symptoms in as little as one week, though keep in mind that for most, symptoms are generally improved after about two weeks. Antidepressant use has significantly increased in the United States since 1994, with a fourth of antidepressant users having taken antidepressant medications for over 10 years to effectively manage depression and get back to enjoying everyday life. Anxiolytics, the medications prescribed for some anxiety disorders, have also had significant results in improving symptoms of anxiety disorders, and even allowing for the improvement of sleep and concentration. 

It’s no doubt that prescription medications can be a more than viable avenue to help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety–it’s all about finding the right treatment and working with your doctor on fine-tuning that treatment plan. 

Lifestyle Changes

Some lifestyle changes may be able to help diminish your symptoms of anxiety and depression, especially when used in combination with other forms of treatment, like therapy or medication. Other types of treatment that may be helpful include:

  • Finding a support group to discuss your struggles with depression and anxiety with other people who have experienced the same disorders
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet full of lean sources of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, making sure to get enough of your recommended daily intake of all vitamins and minerals
  • Exercise regularly in order to get your endorphins flowing and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Read self-help books or listen to self-help podcasts
  • Speak with friends and family members about your condition and ask them for their support, then tell them how you would most prefer to be supported.

Why is it important to treat depression and anxiety?

Treatment of depression and anxiety is extremely important, and not only because everyone deserves to feel their best and be able to live their lives to the fullest extent. 

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems also have a serious economic and social cost that costs individuals and society a great deal in both direct costs, which include providing health and social care, as well as indirect costs like lost employment. 

It is not only those who suffer from mental illness who experience these social and economic costs; workers regularly leave the workforce in order to care for relatives or loved ones with mental health issues, costing the economy billions of dollars per year. Clearly, depression and anxiety have a real, measurable economic and social cost that extends far beyond the personal pain and loss experienced by people who suffer from these conditions. 

However, the most important reason why it is vital to treat depression and anxiety is because everyone deserves to lead a happy, fulfilled life. If you’re not sure where to turn for support in getting treatment for your anxiety and depression, or if you’re not sure how to get in touch with a mental healthcare provider, a good place to start is with YANA

YANA is a world-class online mental health clinic that provides an easy way for you to get matched with mental health providers, who can work with you to develop a long-term treatment plan to find you the right treatment, and even the right prescription medications that get delivered right to your door, at an affordable price. YANA provides accessible, expert mental health care to get you the treatment you need at a cost you can afford. You are not alone. Let YANA match you with a provider and take a step toward getting your mental wellness back on track. 

Sources:

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression/treatment

https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-types-psychotherapy-are-helpful-anxiety-and-depression

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/10/four-million-people-in-england-are-long-term-users-of-antidepressants

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-types#1

https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db283.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK361016/#:~:text=In%20other%20words%2C%20antidepressants%20improved,within%20one%20or%20two%20weeks.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/anxiolytic