Treating Anxiety and Depression
Most people feel anxious or depressed during difficult times. Feelings of sadness, loneliness, fear, and anxiety are normal, and they usually pass over time. But if deep emotions interfere with your daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder or depression—or both.
Nearly one-half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and most people with depression experience some anxiety symptoms. The good news is that depression and anxiety are treatable, separately and together, and most people benefit from treatments available today.
TREATING DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY DISORDERS
Often depression and an anxiety disorder can be treated similarly. Treatment should be tailored to your individual diagnosis and needs.
Types of Treatments
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a short-term form of psychotherapy, is often very effective. CBT teaches you how to replace negative and unproductive thought patterns with more realistic and useful ones.
Medications can also be useful. Symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders often occur together, and both respond to treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) medications.
Your doctor may prescribe different medications, depending on the specific nature and symptoms of your illness. If you experience severe symptoms and have difficulty carrying out day-to-day activities, you may receive a combination of psychotherapy and medication treatment. Find out more about medications.
Your therapist or doctor may also recommend self-help materials and regular exercise, which can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
GETTING HELP: FIND A THERAPIST
Most people with an anxiety or depressive disorder can be helped with professional care. The first step is finding a therapist. Here are a few places to start:
• Search by zip code to Find a Therapist on the website at Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA).
• Ask your primary care physician for a referral.
• Contact the psychiatry department at a local medical school or the psychology department at a university.
• Contact a local hospital and ask about mental health clinics or staff psychiatrists.
• Check Clinical Trials in your area.
Here are some questions to ask a therapist during a consultation:
- What training and experience do you have in treating anxiety and depressive disorders?
- What is your basic approach to treatment?
- Can you prescribe medication or refer me to someone who can, if that proves necessary?
- How long is the course of treatment?
- How frequent are treatment sessions and how long do they last? Do you include family members in therapy?
- Will you or a staff member go to the home of a phobic person, if necessary?
- What is your fee schedule, and do you have a sliding scale for varying financial circumstances?
- What kinds of health insurance do you accept?
Help a Family Member
Support is an important part of the recovery process for someone with an anxiety disorder and depression. Recovery may be stressful for family members, so it’s often helpful to build a support network of relatives, friends, and therapists.
Here’s how family members can help a loved one.
- Learn about the disorders.
- Recognize and praise small accomplishments.
- Modify expectations during stressful periods.
- Measure progress on the basis of individual improvement, not against some absolute standard.
- Be flexible and try to maintain a normal routine.
Read more about helping a family member.
PLEASE NOTE: The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) does not endorse or promote any specific medications or treatments.