Learn about anxiety and depressive disorders, available treatments, and tips for managing symptoms. Treating anxiety and depressive disorders.
What is anxiety and depression?
Definition of anxiety and depression
Most of us feel anxious
at times. A death in the family, losing a job or home, separation and divorce, financial instability, a severely ill child… the list is endless. Feelings of sadness, loneliness, fear, hopelessness, and anxiety are normal, and they usually pass over time. But if these feelings interfere with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder or depression — or both.
Who suffer anxiety and depression?
It is not uncommon to have anxiety and depression. In fact, about half of those who are diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and most with depression experience some anxiety symptoms. Women are more likely than men to have depression as well as an anxiety disorder. Many people with an anxiety disorder also may experience periods of depression.
How life is affected by anxiety and depression?
Anxiety and depression are crippling, and they can have profound negative effects on you and your family and friends. They can disrupt your daily activities and affect your ability to care for loved ones and complete tasks related to school or work. These disorders are real and they are serious, but they can be treated together and separately. There is hope, and finding the right treatment will help you get better.
What is Anxiety and Anxiety disorders
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal biological reaction to stress and an important part of living. It helps us get out of harm’s way and prepare for important events, and it warns us when we need to take action.
But you may experience anxiety that is persistent, irrational, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming. If it’s an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it can be disabling. When anxiety interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.
What is anxiety disorder?
The term “anxiety disorder” refers to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD),panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia), and specific phobias. Anxiety disorders often run in families and have a biological basis, much like allergies or diabetes. These are real, serious disorders that are treatable.
Treating anxiety and depressive disorders
Anxiety and depression are highly treatable
Therapy and medications have proved effective in treating anxiety and depressive disorders, sometimes with a combination of therapies. Talk with your doctor or therapist about the best treatment for you. New scientific research emerges all the time to improve treatments. This booklet gives an overview of current treatments that are proven effective for these disorders.
Often depression and an anxiety disorder can be treated the same way and at the same time. Treatment should be tailored to your individual diagnosis and designed to help you manage and reduce the symptoms of both disorders. You may have symptoms that require treating one disorder first. The first step is getting the appropriate diagnosis and deciding on a course of treatment that will work for you.
Therapy for anxiety and depression
Several forms of psychotherapy are effective. Of these, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term form of psychotherapy that is often very effective. CBT teaches youhow to replace negative and unproductive thought patterns with more realistic and useful ones. Treatment focuses ontaking specific steps to overcome anxiety and depression, often involving facing your fears.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT), acceptance and commitmenttherapy (ACT), and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) are also effective types of psychotherapy. Talk to your therapist about which option might be best for you.Other forms of therapy.
In addition to psychotherapy, your doctor or therapist may suggest other therapies.
Recent studies have shown attention training
can be as effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder as CBT and medication. Other studies have shown it to be effective in reducing depression symptoms. Attention training helps patients practice how not to focus on threatening words or on images of threatening faces.Family therapy
uses strategies to reduce the level of distress within a family that may contribute to a person’s symptoms or result from them.Relaxation techniques
—breathing re-training, progressive muscle relaxation, and exercise—may help you develop the ability to cope more effectively with the stresses that contribute to anxiety and mood, as well as physical symptoms.
Particularly effective for bipolar disorder is interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
. This program stresses maintaining a regular schedule of daily activities and stability in personal relationships. People record the timing of their activities, moods, and levels of social stimulation. As treatment progresses, they work to keep stable social rhythms (when to sleep, exercise, eat, etc.), anticipate events that could disrupt rhythms, and develop plans for continued mood and social rhythm stability.
Medication anxiety and depression
Medications are effective for anxiety and depression
Symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders often occur together, and both respond to treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) medications. SSRIs and SNRIs have fewer side effects. These medications must be taken for two to four weeks to experience their full effect, and it may take several weeks to adjust the medication to the correct dosage. Even once you are feeling better, you must continue taking the medications. Changes to a different medication or withdrawal from all medication should be only done under your doctor’s supervision.
Medications for bipolar disorder differ
It is important to get a proper diagnosis and discuss treatment options that will lead to a healthy and productive life. Without treatment, bipolar disorder usually gets worse, causing manic and depressive episodes to become more frequent and more severe, and leading to an increased likelihood of substance abuse and suicide attempts. We know that treating the anxiety is an important component of getting better. Unlike treating depression and anxiety, taking an antidepressant may worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder. Your doctor may suggest a combination of therapies that include medication and CBT, or talk therapy. Finding the right treatment may take some time.
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs often used to treat anxiety disorders, and they do not appear to have negative effects on bipolar disorder. However, they may cause side effects, including physical dependence and tolerance (a need for more medication over time), as well as some risk of abuse, particularly by those who have experienced alcohol or substance abuse.
Discuss your options with your doctor. And stay in touch to report any side effects, which your doctor will carefully monitor. You may need to try a few different combinations, and it may take some time to find the most effective medications for you.
Complementary and alternative medicine for anxiety and depression
Interest in complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, is growing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.Complementary medicine
is used along with conventional medicine. An example is aromatherapy—inhaling the scent of essential oils to promote health and well-being—to help lessen discomfort following surgery.Alternative medicine
is used in place of conventional medicine. An example is following a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy recommended by a medical doctor.
Some CAM therapies are currently used to treat anxiety and anxiety disorders. The plant kava has been effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, and evidence for the use of acupuncture in treating anxiety disorders is becoming stronger. Yoga, which combines physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and a distinct philosophy, is one of the top ten CAM practices.