What Treatments are Available for Anxiety and Depression?

Most people face stress on a daily basis, but when it is chronic and manifested in anxiety disorder or depression, the usual strategies (sleep, rest, and trying to take it easier) are often not enough. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 40 million adults are affected by anxiety, and despite the fact that the conditions is highly treatable, around 30% do not seek help.

Major depressive disorder, meanwhile, is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for those aged 15 to 44, with around 16.1 million people affected. In this post, we reveal the most successful treatments for anxiety and depression.

The Importance of Diagnosis and Treatment

If you or a loved one suffer from panic attacks, feel persistently stressed or show signs of depression (including a lack of motivation, feelings of sadness etc.), it is important to see a mental health professional to obtain a diagnosis and to formulate a treatment plan.

Because depression in particular, when severe, can be linked to suicidal thoughts and intent, medication (such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) may be prescribed for a specific period or long-term.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Medication is not always required for anxiety and depression. Currently, the ‘gold standard’ treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to enlighten patients on the link between how they think and behave. In a typical CBT session, psychotherapist will work alongside the patient to determine goals (often small behavioral changes), which can positively affect the way a patient views a situation, event, or person.

Supplementation

Natural supplements can play an important role in keeping stress levels down, which is vital when it comes to anxiety and depression. The list of supplements is vast and includes adaptogens such as Siberian ginseng and echinacea, which help battle stress in a non-specific way.

Kratom, a tree whose leaves contain alkaloids with opioid-like effects, has been found to reduce pain and anxiety, and improve sleep, which is vital considering that sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality can trigger panic attacks of bouts of depression. The kratom  plant produces leaves with three different vein colors (red, white, and green). The red vein is often used for anxiety and depression because it enhances mood and sleep, and reduces distress.

Other popular supplements for stress-related conditions include melatonin (one small study has shown in improves sleep, depression and anxiety); valerian (a classic for relaxation and sleep); GABA (also found in limited studies to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety) and Vitamin B multivitamins (research indicates they can improve mood).

Anxiety and depression are two conditions that require medical diagnosis and attention when they interfere significantly with daily life and wellbeing. Often, health professionals do not prescribe medication, but recommend lifestyle changes, the adoption of mindfulness activities such as yoga, or supplementation. If you or anyone you know has symptoms, seek help immediately to start your journey towards better health and happiness as soon as possible.

Depression Has Been Linked to Issues in The Bedroom

Depression is an edgy topic for both patients and medical practitioners. Although it has been recognised for decades, it’s still a hazy area in some sectors. The average person mistakenly defines depression as ‘feeling blue’ or ‘being down.’ They think it’s a mood you can snap out of rather than a debilitating disease that can lead to self-harm and even death.

This stigma and negative attitude make it hard for people to admit they are experiencing depression. Unfortunately, there are medics and professionals who share this perspective, which only raises the barriers to treatment. Depression is much more than low spirits. It’s diagnosed if a patient experiences the following symptoms for two weeks or more:

  • Sudden changes in appetite, e.g. eating much more or not eating at all
  • Unexplainable changes in sleeping patterns, e.g. insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Extreme shifts in eating habits which lead to drastic weight gain or loss
  • Aches, pains, and illness that seems to have no cause
  • Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
  • Hopelessness and intense guilt
  • Having a hard time concentrating or focusing
  • Persistent anxiety, irritability, and sadness
  • Being tired all the time for no particular reason
  • Suicidal thoughts and plans
  • Dysfunction in your sex life

Even if a patient recognizes that they have depression, it can still be tricky to seek help. Many doctors immediately prescribe medication, and this doesn’t always work. Some drugs work well in some patients but do not affect others.

Also, there’s no consensus on what causes depression. It may be a mix of hormonal imbalance, negative thought patterns, genetic predisposition, and response to trauma. Depending on which factor is more causative, different drug regimens may be needed. For some patients, talk therapy is enough to make them better.

Once a patient has agreed to take medicine, an additional issue arises. Many depression medications have sexual dysfunction as a side effect. They can cause erectile difficulties in men and vaginal dryness in women. Aside from contributing to physical sex barriers, the depression itself can lead to a loss of interest in sex.

Sometimes, this low sex drive is a general symptom. In such cases, patients lose interest in everything. They no longer enjoy food, work, exercise, or time with loved ones. This loss of interest naturally extends to sex. Other times, the loss of libido is more specific. It may be linked to lowered self-esteem, destroying the patient’s sense of self.

When a patient is depressed, they may feel worthless and unattractive. They think they are a burden to those around them, so they don’t want anyone’s company. This emotional distancing is especially acute with their sexual partners. In the depressed patient’s mind, their partner can’t possibly find them attractive, so they don’t want to ‘impose’ sex on that partner.

Studies suggest women experience depression more frequently than men, but men have a higher suicide rate. This may mean women admit depression more frequently than men, who often suffer in silence. In the same way, men have a hard time admitting to sexual problems, so it’s bound to be worse if their medication causes, even more, problems for their masculinity.

In these instances, a man’s negative feelings about his medication-induced sexual dysfunction may deepen his depression, which then aggravates his bedroom problems. It becomes a difficult loop to get out of. In women, the case is a little different. Depression causes their dysfunction when it changes how they feel about themselves.

In both these cases, the first and best step is talk therapy. It can help both men and women get to the root of their depression before they resort to medication, which might intensify their feelings of sexual unattractiveness. Restoring a patient’s self-worth will go a long way in improving their sex drive. This matters because the brain is a bigger sex organ than genitals.

However, there are many cases where medication is essential in resolving depression. For patients who are suicidal, anti-depressants can literally save their lives, and any sexual side effects are a necessary evil. If a patient is worried their medicine will influence their sex drive, they could wait until after sex to take their required dose.

Regular exercise lifts a patient’s spirits and makes them fitter, which improves their blood flow and builds muscle. All these factors lead to better sex. A healthy diet has similar effects on mood and physical attractiveness. It makes your skin glow and your body supple.

The most important step is to ask your doctor lots of questions. If your depression medication causes sexual dysfunction, you can either ask for an alternative or get additional medicine to counteract the effects on your libido.