Evaluating Different Anxiety and Depression Treatments
Jan 29, 2024
Anxiety and depression have become increasingly common among Australians. Though our understanding of mental health has improved over the last decade, it’s still not clear whether this phenomenon is due to the actual case numbers rising or due to our improved diagnostics. Regardless, through improved medical methods and other auxiliary means, it is now possible to effectively mitigate the negative effects of both anxiety and depression.
However, it’s important to understand that not all treatments are made equal. Some methods are more effective than overs, and other ‘treatments’ are sometimes more harmful than they are helpful.
To help you navigate through the ever-growing world of mental health, we’re going to be delving into the realm of depression and anxiety treatments. We will be exploring both effective strategies as well as certain practices that you should be cautious about.
Keep in mind that none of the content in this article is medical advice. You should always consult a general practitioner or another medical professional if you feel that you need mental health support.
About Anxiety and Depression
When you read internet articles about anxiety and depression, both terms are usually used in tandem. In fact, they are used in tandem so much that some might think they’re interchangeable.
Though anxiety and depression often occur together, it’s important to remember that they are two separate conditions. To treat anxious and depressive symptoms effectively, it helps to understand the main differences between the two problems.
Anxiety is typically associated with continuous worrying and the constant feeling of fear. It is usually triggered by circumstances that bring about uncertainty. Manifestations of anxiety might include a fast heart rate, irritability, inability to sleep, various digestive issues or sweating.
Depression, on the other hand, is often characterised by long-lasting sadness, having no hope for the future and feelings of worthlessness. Common symptoms of depression often include loss of interest in hobbies, isolating from peers and family, changes in dietary habits, or addiction to substances.
It’s also important to note that just because you feel sad or anxious from time to time, doesn’t mean you have a mental health disorder. The problems discussed in this article will mainly be about disorders that have a significant effect on one’s ability to function in society.
If you’re unsure about your mental health, we recommend that you talk to a medical professional to get advice and treatment.
Effective Treatments for Anxiety and Depression
- Therapy and Counselling
Seeking therapy or counselling is often considered one of the most effective ways to address anxiety and depression. Professional therapists can provide you with valuable insights, coping mechanisms, and provide you with a support system that’s tailored to your individual needs.
One of the most popular and effective forms of therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of psychotherapy where a counsellor helps you understand your own way of thinking and identify aspects of it that might be harmful. CBT might help you become aware of the irrationality of negative thoughts or beliefs that might be causing you to feel anxious and depressed. Other programs like life coaching can also be beneficial.
Through this awareness, the hope is that you will be able to challenge negative framing and become more capable of developing healthy thinking habits.
Prescribed medications, such as antidepressants and mood stabilisers, can play a crucial role in managing depressive symptoms. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, antidepressants were the most common mental health-related prescription given by GPs in 2021-22. Antidepressants are said to positively influence multiple chemicals in our brains such as serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are said to affect our cognition, mood, and internal reward system.
However, not all patients react to antidepressants in the same way. In fact, one of the common side effects of antidepressants is anxiety and restlessness. Because of this, it’s absolutely crucial that you consult a credible medical professional and have them determine whether or not antidepressants are suitable for you.
- Regular Exercise and Healthy Diet
When you exercise, your body triggers the release of endorphins, which are often referred to as our ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters. You can consider them as the body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers.
Whether it’s a brisk walk, a jog, a workout at the gym, or a yoga session, each form of exercise contributes to the release of these beneficial chemicals in the brain. As a result, exercise can help us create a sense of euphoria and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In addition to endorphin release, exercise provides an opportunity to break the cycle of negative thoughts that often accompany anxiety and depression. Focusing on a physical task can become a mindfulness exercise, diverting attention away from distressing thoughts.
Quality sleep is integral to mental health. In simple terms, sleeping is your body’s way of ‘recharging’. If you don’t give your body some time to rest, you’ll likely remain tired for the rest of the day and be more prone to negative thoughts.
As such, establishing a consistent sleep routine and creating a comfortable sleep environment is important to managing anxiety and depression.
- Family and Friends as a Support Network
Open communication and understanding within relationships can also have a positive impact on mental health.
Cultivating meaningful relationships and fostering strong social connections can provide you with emotional support and a sense of belonging, both of which are essential elements in combating anxiety and depression.
Things to Avoid
- Over-reliance on Medication
While medications can be beneficial, over-relying on them without addressing underlying issues may not lead to sustainable improvement. In fact, it may even lead to addiction, which in turn, can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Ignoring Professional Help
Avoiding or dismissing professional help is a common mistake. A lot of adults nowadays, especially men, consider getting help as a sign of weakness. As a result, they tend to internalise their emotions and keep their problems to themselves.
While going to therapy does require you to be vulnerable, it’s not a negative reflection of your mental strength or your value as a person.
Skilled mental health professionals will be more than happy to help you through the complexities of anxiety and depression whether you’re a student, a parent, or a very successful figure.
If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, you may have the urge to just reject everything and everyone around you. However, isolating oneself from social connections can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and despair.
Even though it’s hard, you should try to gradually reach out to people from time to time if you’re feeling down. As mentioned before, building a strong support network is essential in combating anxiety and depression.
A combination of therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and a robust support network often proves to be the most effective when dealing with mental health issues. At the same time, it’s crucial to be mindful of potential pitfalls, such as over-reliance on medication or neglecting professional help.
By incorporating healthy coping mechanisms and seeking appropriate support, individuals can embark on a journey toward improved mental well-being.
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