Five Ways to Treat Depression and Anxiety
Today, the sad reality is that we humans struggle with mental illness even when our lives have become much easier than they were decades ago. One of the reasons why we are hearing more about mental health issues today is due to the decreasing stigma around it.
Due to knowledge and awareness, people are now less reluctant to seek help, but there are still miles to go. Several factors contribute to mental health issues, leading to dire consequences if not promptly addressed.
These range from genetic to environmental, with every individual experiencing different symptoms. The environmental factors include social issues, childhood experiences, and medical conditions that significantly shape a person’s mental health.
Termed the leading cause of disability in the world, mental illness has several types, among which the most common is depression and anxiety. The risk of developing mental illness is high regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity.
Common signs include withdrawn behavior from family or friends, hopelessness, and lack of sleep or appetite. People with mental illness often believe there is no way out of misery, but that is not true. The first step in effectively treating mental health issues is understanding and identifying the root cause.
Various options like psychotherapy, medicine, nutritional supplements, or yoga are standard modes of treatment. Aside from these, experts have and continue to work toward creating a wide range of new treatment options.
Among these, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is the most effective treatment for depression and anxiety. But, ketamine therapy cost varies on the number of infusions a patient seeks as per their illness.
If you or your family member have mental health issues, these treatments will surely help.
Healthcare professionals prescribe anti-depressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors to treat depression.
But how do anti-depressants work? They balance the neurotransmitters and chemicals that regulate communication between neurons in the brain. Higher levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine associated with mood changes are linked to lower levels of depression.
The impact of anti-depressants varies from person to person, and the lasting duration in the individual’s body. For instance, some drugs last 36 hours, whereas others for several days. Besides anti-depressants, benzodiazepines are the first line of treatment for anxiety disorders.
These medications are effective in the short term and have a high risk of developing tolerance in patients who use them. For that reason, these medications must be administered when only prescribed.
Anti-depressants or benzodiazepines are recommended individually or combined with psychotherapy, depending on the individual’s symptoms.
Physical activity is the last thing on the individual’s mind when suffering from mental illness. However, unknown to many, exercise has significant benefits that alleviate symptoms of mental disorders.
Though it is already established that exercise decreases blood pressure and improves health, research proves that it reduces anxiety and positively impacts mood.
Incorporating physical activity into the daily routine releases the ‘feel good’ endorphins which significantly improve the sense of well-being. These chemicals help waive negative thoughts or emotions associated with depression or anxiety.
The positive feeling linked with the release of endorphins is described as ‘runner high,’ similar to the effects of morphine.
As mentioned earlier, mental illness is the primary contributing factor to lack of motivation; individuals can work through it by performing moderate-intensity exercises like swimming, jogging, tennis, and golf. For moral support, joining a group exercise class helps too.
Different types of therapies help in treating depression or other psychological illnesses. Compared to medications, psychotherapy is effective in identifying the underlying cause.
The type of therapy implemented depends on numerous factors, from the severity of symptoms, personal preferences and, most importantly, the therapy goals. A few examples of psychotherapies include psychodynamic, interpersonal, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective, which uses a combined approach to treat anxiety and depression. The treatment involves analyzing negative thought patterns and behaviors attributed to depression or anxiety.
The therapist instructs the patient to journal the week’s events and reactions to those events. After evaluating the course of the response pattern, individuals work with the therapist to learn ways of changing their mindset.
Each therapy session lasts between three to five hours and includes practicing positive self-talk. Dialectal behavioral therapy incorporates mindfulness practices from Buddhist traditions, enabling the patient to tackle a challenging situation without frustration.
4. Alternative Treatments
Primary care providers incorporate these treatments when all traditional approaches have no significant result. Yoga, electrical stimulation, or dietary supplements are recommended alongside prescribed medication.
Yoga improves health with the help of incorporating breathing techniques and relaxing the mind and body and also treats depression and anxiety by enhancing concentration and elevating energy.
This type of physical activity combines meditation and physical activity, the two most essential components that patients suffering from mental health issues often lack.
Cranial electrotherapy stimulation is another alternative treatment that stimulates the brain with a current a person doesn’t feel. The electrical stimulation increases the release of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins primarily concerned with stabilizing emotions.
Though prescription is required for CES, many can use it at home alongside other forms of treatment.
5. Animal Therapy
Perhaps the most unconventional treatment many are unaware of is animal therapy. Healthcare professionals use various animals to help people struggling with mental health issues.
An example of animal therapy is equine-assisted therapy which instills feelings of care to improve behavior and emotions with the help of horse riding. Participants must practice self-awareness and pay close attention to the horse’s behavior to judge their area of improvement as they work towards establishing a connection with the animal.
Besides horses, cats, dogs, and birds are also introduced in the therapy. Therapy initially isn’t goal-oriented and starts with a meet and greet with a bunch of people and animals. Later, the sessions become more structured per every patient’s requirement.
Animal therapy aims to develop feelings of companionship and acceptance, aiding every individual bat feelings of isolation and stress.
Mental health issues over the years have significantly risen for many reasons. Some of the most common ones are social media, work-related stress, and childhood trauma. These causes later manifest into signs and symptoms that wreak havoc on an individual’s life and health.
Many believe there is no way out of mental health issues, which is false. As mental health issues continue to rise, scientists are working towards developing treatments effective in alleviating mental health problems.
Some common examples include exercise, medications, alternative treatments, and psychotherapy. The treatment implemented depends on the individual’s severity of symptoms and preference.
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