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What are the Common Treatments for Depression and Anxiety?

By Kathy Heydasch
Updated Feb 27, 2024
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Common treatments for depression and anxiety include medication, psychotherapy, herbal or vitamin supplements and changes to diet and exercise habits. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and even general practitioners can evaluate a patient and then make recommendations based on their analysis. Antidepressants are the most common medical treatment for both of these conditions, but psychotherapy can often be successful without the use of medicines. The efficacy of herbal and vitamin supplements is still debated.

Medical treatments for depression and anxiety most commonly involve the use of antidepressants. These medicines fall into several categories according to their chemical makeup and effect on the brain. Common categories include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and tetracyclic antidepressants (TeCAs).

Psychotherapy treatments for depression and anxiety can vary widely, depending on the practitioner’s beliefs and tactics. The most common forms of psychotherapy for depression and anxiety are cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy involves focusing on the negative thoughts which lead to depressed or anxious thinking, while behavioral therapy involves focusing on the behaviors that can be detrimental to the quality of a patient’s everyday life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy’s goal is to focus on both and therefore be more effective. Psychotherapy can be individual or in a group, and may also be given to couples or families as well.

Treatments for depression and anxiety that do not involve a doctor include herbal supplements as well as changes to diet and exercise. St. John’s Wort is the most common herbal supplement, and clinical studies are mixed as to its effect on major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. Some clinical studies have shown great results with few side effects, while other studies have shown no impact beyond that of a placebo.

Nutritional supplements can also play a role in treatments for depression and anxiety. A trend in depression and anxiety treatment is Vitamin D. Others include omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and Vitamin B12. These changes in diet can be supplemented by an increase in regular exercise, which many feel is the most effective combatant against afflictions like mild anxiety and depression.

Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety often cause feelings of worthlessness, irritability, and insomnia, among a great many others. Sufferers of these mood disorders should seek treatment from a medical professional. In many cases, however, this is difficult due to the sheer nature of the affliction. Emotional support is sometimes needed from friends and family members in order to convince the depressed or anxiety-ridden individual to seek help.

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