Anxiety-related disorders and major depressive disorders are some of the most common mental illnesses diagnosed in adults in the United States.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States each year. It’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. More than 16 million adults in the United States are affected by a major depressive disorder each year.
Anxiety disorders and depression are treatable conditions, and there are a number of ways to manage both disorders. Many people experience relief from their symptoms and see an improvement in their quality of life with professional care, but treatment success varies. Some people may respond to treatment in a short period of time while others may take longer.
Here are a few things to consider when exploring treatment options and symptom management:
Depression vs. anxiety
Although they’re similar, anxiety and depression are characterized by the unique symptoms each disorder produces. Both disorders affect concentration and mood, and cause physical symptoms.
Anxiety is marked by nearly unending worry and obsessive thought that interfere with work, school and relationships. Depression is marked by a persistent sadness, hopelessness or empty feeling that lasts for more than two weeks.
Being anxious vs. an anxiety disorder
There is a big difference between being anxious and having an anxiety disorder. Dr. Naomi Simon, professor of psychiatry at N.Y.U. School of Medicine and director of the Anxiety and Complicated Grief Program at N.Y.U. Langone Health, said in a December 2017 interview that anxiety is a natural reaction to stress but not necessarily pathological.
For example, if the source of the anxiety is a presentation at school, a project at work or even watching the news, that probably wouldn’t require medical treatment. But, according to the DSM-5, if the anxiety is interfering with concentration, sleep and the ability to focus for days or months at a time, that points to a disorder that could need professional diagnostic assessment.
Identifying the cause
What is triggering the anxiety? It is important to identify the cause and give it a name. When the problem is named specifically, the person experiencing the anxiety can address it and change his or her thinking about it, Dr. Alicia Clark, a D.C.-based licensed clinical psychologist, said in a recent Forbes article.
For example, she explained, if the source of the anxiety is a presentation, think about why the presentation is causing those feelings. It could be because you are unsure of your presentation skills and need more practice. Or, it could be because you need the presentation to go well and you are worried it will not. Each reason is valid but has a different remedy, Clark said.
There are a number of dos and don’ts when it comes to treating depression and anxiety. Medication and counseling often complement each other. Antidepressants can be effective in treating depression and anxiety and help patients deal with their problems, but ultimately talk therapy is encouraged in order to get to the real root of the problem.
Other treatments – writing, meditation, exercise and spending time with friends – are also good ways to combat and control the anxiety.
Simon cautions that drinking too much alcohol can ultimately increase feelings of anxiousness.
There is no one right or wrong way to treat depression and anxiety, and the same treatment approach will vary from person to person. The important thing to figure out is what works best for you.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder, contact a treatment facility for help. To learn more about the breadth of services offered at Havenwood Behavioral Health, visit havenwoodbehavioral.com/or call us at (864) 660-6217. With proper treatment and support, you can overcome mental illness.