How to Treat Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression can be debilitating and destructive influences in your life. Having one or both can make the idea of even trying to deal with them seem impossible, not worth it, or a lost cause.
That is the very nature of these disorders- they can manipulate how you think and feel, and this can affect your actions and outlook in life. Anxiety is more than feeling nervous before speaking in front of a crowd or going to a new place. Depression reaches well beyond being sad that you received a bad grade in school or feedback at work.
These scenarios can cause you to feel the traits of being anxious or depressed, but that does not mean it is a disorder. Anxiety and depression are emotional responses. When it gets out of hand and out of your control, it is time to seek help. The treatment for anxiety and depression does not require you to follow some specific set of rules- every person is different and will require different methods and techniques.
This is also incredibly important to remember when dealing with others who have these disorders. Knowing how to help someone with anxiety or depression means you understand that it is more than just a temporary feeling and that it is out of that person’s control.
For some, anxiety treatment without medication may work. This is also true for depression. When these things are caused by a chemical or physiological problem within the brain and body, seeking anxiety treatment medication or depression medication may be the answer.
There are also other ways to address and treat anxiety and depression, such as meditation. No solution will be immediately evident, and this can be very frustrating when you feel lost. When your brain is telling you to give up, that everything is out to get you, or that nothing even matters it is hard to keep a positive outlook. Think about anxiety and depression as being disorders or illnesses just like diabetes is- it is a real problem that you are not making up, and there is help.
Types of Anxiety
Being anxious is a certain feeling. Anxiety disorders are medical conditions, and anxiety can be classified in different ways. This can affect what treatment may be administered or what therapies may be tried. One type of anxiety may be negatively affected by the treatment for another, so it is important to fully discuss and understand your anxiety with a professional who is unbiased. Self diagnosis can be dangerous, but you should also know information on possibilities. You may also have more than one type of anxiety.
The main types of anxiety are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Phobia, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Phobias, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). They all differ in their causes, presentations, and treatments. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common type.
It presents as an ongoing or constant state of tension and nervousness, both in the mental and physical sense. GAD does not have a specific cause, or it does not give you the ability to take a break from anxiety. GAD is often present in those who have other anxiety disorders. Social phobia is an irrational fear of social situations.
Whilst some apprehension or nervousness in new situations or uncomfortable environments is normal, the anxiety associated with social phobia becomes disruptive of life and normal activities. Social phobia may present as constantly feeling like you are going to embarrass yourself, being unable to cope in social situations, or viewing public interaction as being inherently negative.
Panic disorder is the opposite of GAD- it is not an ongoing feeling of anxiety, but rather an intense sense of doom. This causes mental and physical symptoms, and is characterized by having and fearing panic attacks. Panic attacks can cause scary physical symptoms like palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
arise during the peak of attacks- feeling of certain death, health anxiety, and feeling helpless. These attacks can be triggered by physical sensation, stress, or they may not have a specific cause. If you fear panic attacks without actually having them, that also is indicative of panic disorder.
Anxiety from Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia is the fear of going out in public or into unfamiliar spaces. This can be extreme wherein the patient never leaves their home, or it can be less so in that they only go out when it is absolutely essential. Agoraphobia is often caused by panic attacks, and can happen as a response to a traumatic event.
A preoccupation with personal safety that goes well beyond the normal is indicative of this as well. Specific phobias are fear of specific things- spiders, heights, etc. The fear is debilitating- being afraid of a spider may mean you rely on someone else to kill them, but having arachnophobia means that spiders inflict excessive fear and terror.
Some people with specific phobias feel this way by just thinking of what they fear. PTSD happens as a result of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms can appear or continue for years after the event. Reliving what happened, having triggers, and general emotional trouble are all symptoms of PTSD.
OCD is an extremely destructive and disruptive anxiety disorder. Obsessions over specific thoughts and compulsions to perform particular behaviors are what makes up OCD. These can be linked as well- a person may feel that if they do not complete a behavior or routine that a bad thought will become reality.
OCD is much more than just wanting things to be clean or in order. Someone with OCD can also value hygiene like anyone else, but they may also be washing their hands until they bleed to complete their “need”.
Anxiety Treatment Medication
Many people find success when using different anxiety medications as part of their therapy and management plan. One medication may affect you in a very negative way, whilst that same medication is exactly what someone else needs to be better. Treating anxiety and depression through medicine is a well established method, but it does often require trial and error, as well as great patience and understanding.
Medication can be given as a preventive and ongoing treatment that helps someone to manage their symptoms and improve over time. Medication is also how to treat anxiety attacks in certain cases, as different kinds can be taken on an as-needed basis. The information here should not be used in substitution of a medical doctor’s or professional’s advice.
Antidepressants are commonly used to address depression and its symptoms, as suggested in the name. These medications are also used for treating anxiety disorders. For newly diagnosed anxiety patients, antidepressants are often the first line of treatment. There is abundant evidence of antidepressants helping anxiety, so it makes sense to take the path more traveled in cases like this.
The most common types of antidepressants used are SSRIs and SNRIs. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and SNRIs, or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, change and regulate chemicals in the brain responsible for mood and emotional reactions.
SSRIs can be used to treat all types of anxiety disorders, and SNRIs can be as well. SNRIs are also the first choice treatment for generalized anxiety disorder. Common SSRIs include Celexa, Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro. Common SNRIs include Effexor and Cymbalta. Other types of antidepressants that can be used as part of anxiety treatment are bupropion and tricyclic antidepressants. Bupropion is often labelled as Wellbutrin, Zyban, or Buproban.
Tricyclic antidepressants include Pamelor, Elavil, and Tofranil.
When a patient and their doctor or psychiatrist ask themselves how to calm anxiety or how to beat anxiety in moments of intense emotion, medication is introduced as being needed only in those times. Benzodiazepines reduce abnormal activity in the brain, and they start working very quickly. Unlike SSRIs, SNRIs, and other medications, benzodiazepines do not take months of persistent dosage to show improvement.
They can be taken at the beginning or in the middle of anxiety attacks, or as part of treatment alongside other medications. Other medications that may be used for anxiety include beta-blockers and buspirone, depending on symptoms and severity. All of these medications, as well as the countless others not discussed here, have side effects that must be weighed against their potential benefit. Side effects such as weight gain may make a certain medication a very poor choice for a particular patient.
Some also carry the risk of dependency. Doing research will help give you some understanding and knowledge to advocate for yourself, but you should always consult a professional.
Anxiety Treatment without Medication
Anxiety does not always need to be addressed through the use of medication. Supplemental therapy can also be used alongside medication as a way to further its benefit, or to provide benefits it does not on its own. Treatment can be found through counseling or therapies that require you to be in a professional’s office, but anxiety treatment at home may also be an option.
This is especially beneficial to those who are anxious about medical environments, leaving their residence, or who may be ill in other ways. Natural remedies for anxiety and depression also exist, and they can be used on their own or as a supplement to medication if needed. Certain natural remedies can conflict with medications, so it is important to consult a professional before starting anything you are not sure of.
Some common natural remedies for anxiety and depression include St. John’s wort, kava, and certain herbs. St. John’s wort has the most evidence of any natural remedy, with some countries using it as a first line attempt at treatment before considering medication. Its effects are comparable to those of traditional medications like SSRIs.
St. John’s wort can increase the blood plasma level of certain medications. Birth control is one type of medication that has warnings included for using St. John’s wort. It can block the contraceptive effects of birth control.
herbal remedy is considered safest for people not taking anything else. St. John’s wort can also induce psychoses, especially in patients who take SSRIs. Kava is the only herbal remedy with extensive recorded effect on anxiety. It is available in different preparations like blended teas or in the traditional and ceremonial fashion.
Kava is not often clinically recommended as it can cause severe damage to the liver, which is rare but should be considered especially when taking anything else that is processed by the liver. Due to the unclear link between kava and liver toxicity, it is banned in certain places. Chamomile is easily obtainable and inexpensive. Poppy, lemon balm, and passionflower have also shown effect for anxiety, but research is still limited.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also effective for anxiety, and is often used alongside medication. It can be used for both anxiety and depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on understanding thoughts and how they affect feeling, as well as their causes.
define the problems that exist and what solutions might be effective. It is a goal orientated form of therapy, which is good for anxiety and depression as having clearly defined goals can help with reassurance and motivation. The therapy teaches patients principles that they can use for their entire life, well beyond their therapy sessions.
Knowing how to address anxiety and depression are important skills for those who suffer from the disorders. Understanding that negative thoughts can prevent a person from doing what they need to. Thinking negatively about a situation or issue means that a person faces it in a bad way before it even happens.
Believing these thoughts can mean that negative behavior happens as a result. This can cause a vicious cycle wherein the thoughts and behaviors reinforce and cause each other. Having a realistic perspective can help separate thoughts influenced by disorders from those that are rational and that should be respected.
Meditation is useful for addressing anxiety, and it is something that can be practiced anywhere at anytime. Anxiety is associated with an overactive and racing mind, with thoughts that cannot be controlled or stopped. Meditation can help to prevent these thoughts and to control those already existing.
It can give a person the ability to respond properly to triggers and to remain centered and in control. Scientific studies show extensive proof that meditation is effective, and for countless forms of anxiety with varying causes. The theory of mindfulness learned during meditation can also be beneficial beyond just anxiety.
Meditation’s effects may positively impact a person in ways they did not expect. It is not limited to giving only positive mental effects. Meditation physically helps anxiety, by reducing brain activity in areas linked with it. Training the mind to understand and process anxious thoughts will reduce the symptoms of disorders, but also help with stress and other issues that occur during normal life as well.
How to Help Someone with Anxiety
Regardless of whether or not you yourself have anxiety, it is likely you know someone who does. If you do have anxiety, understanding that yours may differ and that you can still provide support is important. If you do not have anxiety, knowing information about it and how to interact and support someone will be greatly beneficial.
Anxiety can cause a person to separate themselves from friends and family, but this does not always mean that they do not want or need support from others. Do not force them into talking with you, but let them know that you are there to help in whatever way you can.
Pushing someone to discuss a personal issue like anxiety can cause them to further withdraw and may also increase their anxiety. Let them know that you understand they cannot help feeling how they do, and that it is a valid condition. Making sure they know you will not judge them for anything will promote better communication between them and you. If they do not open up right away, or at all, do not let your frustration result in negativity.
Telling them to get over it because they will not accept your help is not beneficial to anyone in any way. If they are open to talking with you, do not bring it up often. Let them decide when they are comfortable to, as you may unintentionally cause anxiety or panic by bringing up this sensitive topic.
Your communication does not have to be in person or at certain times. Talking face-to-face can be harder than texting or talking over the phone for someone with anxiety, and these methods also allow you to give support from a distance. Tell them that they can contact you when they need to, but make sure you are willing to support that promise even when it may be inconvenient to you.
Be forgiving to them as how they react or act is not always in their control. Anxiety can result from chemical changes in the brain, and these can cause irritability or other issues. Understand that they will most likely feel guilty over these things, and make sure they know you are not leaving them or giving up on them.
If their outbursts or other issues cause you to have problems, remember that you also need to take care of yourself. Balance your support with your own self care. Rushing them to talk or to show improvement will not help them, and it can set them back even further. Do not be impatient or expect unrealistic results from them. Anxiety takes time to recover from or cure, so be sure you are willing to stick around even when you get tired of it.
When they do show improvement, be proud of them. Highlighting positive aspects and thoughts can help to promote less negative thought processes. They may feel guilty for feeling proud of accomplishing something that is supposed to be “normal”, so be proud for them in these scenarios. Take them out and do exciting activities, but always make sure that they are comfortable and have a sense of control. Start slow and introduce more things over time, and let them influence what you do together.
Building positive memories can help anxiety and can also help to strengthen your bond. This will help you to provide the best support you can, and for them to accept it. Do not give up hope as you help them along, as anxiety is a curable disorder that they do not need to suffer from forever.
They may feel like nothing will ever improve or that they will feel that way forever. In a situation like that, make sure they understand that you have hope for them and that you can see them feeling better and improving. A lot of anxiety is irrational or negative thinking, and letting them know about the situation from an outside perspective can realign their thinking into being more beneficial and workable.
Having anxiety yourself can make it easier for you to support someone else. You have firsthand experience with the disorder and you have basic guidelines on what may or may not help, and letting the other person know that you also have anxiety may help them to trust you more.
Seeing what helps them can allow you to find new ways to help yourself, or they may be able to provide support for you. Helping another person can be a positive experience for you both. Knowing that they help you can build their confidence and positive outlook. You do not have to have anxiety to be an effective and supportive person, but it can help.
If you do not have anxiety, do not make claims you cannot support or fight against what they say. They may know or feel something that you are unaware of. Knowing your place in the battle is extremely important, and they need to know that you understand your role and that they are what is important. If their anxiety begins to take a toll on your own well being, you must put yourself first.
leave them on their own. Help them to find other means of support. Introducing them to friends that may connect with them, or to professionals who can provide treatment can be a big step. If their anxiety seems to be affecting them in a severe and potentially dangerous way, letting a professional know is important.
Even if they insist they do not want or need this, put their safety first. They may be mad or upset with you, but in the end in can save their lives or give them support they were lacking.