## Understanding depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety are two common mental health symptoms that often coexist and can have a significant impact on a person’s life. Understanding these conditions and the connection between them is crucial in finding effective treatment strategies.
Depression is characterized by persistent feelings and characteristics of sadness, hopelessness, failure, no energy (fatigue), guilt, inattentiveness, speaking or moving slower than usual, fidgety behaviors, insomnia (or sleeping too much-called hypersomnia), poor appetite or eating more than usual, and a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed (called anhedonia). It may also involve thoughts of harming themself.
On the other hand, anxiety is just as it sounds, characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry, feeling on edge, nervousness, restlessness, can’t relax, irritability, annoyance by others, and a constant feeling of unease as if negative things may happen. While each problem has distinct symptoms, they often occur together, with some overlapping symptoms, behaviors, and feelings, and research suggests a strong link between them.
The connection between the Two
The duo nuisances often go hand in hand, with one condition frequently triggering or exacerbating the other. It is estimated that around 50% of individuals diagnosed with one also experience the other. The relationship between these two disorders is complex and multifaceted.
One possible explanation for the connection is the shared underlying biological mechanisms. Additionally, individuals with a history of traumatic experiences or chronic stress are more susceptible to developing such symptoms.
Testing & Diagnosing
Diagnostics typically involve a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation by a mental health professional. They will consider the individual’s symptoms, medical history, biological factors, including genetics, emotional history, and any underlying factors that may contribute to the symptoms. The assessment includes biological investigation to rule out other medical conditions that can mimic the symptoms. For example, hyperthyroidism can cause high anxiety in some people. Conversely, hypothyroidism could mimic the sluggishness and fatigue of depression.
In most cases, the diagnostic process includes a clinical interview and self-report questionnaires. The goal is to obtain a clear understanding of the individual’s emotional state and the impact of their symptoms on their daily functioning.
Fortunately, there are various treatment options available to help individuals manage and overcome depression and anxiety. It is essential to work closely with a mental health provider, like SimplyCalm, to determine the most suitable approach based on individual needs and preferences.
Traditional therapy for Mild Cases
Traditional therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is a widely used and evidence-based approach. CBT focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns, cognitive distortions, and behaviors that contribute to these disorders. Through therapy sessions, individuals learn coping strategies and develop healthier ways of thinking and behaving.
CBT is the most researched method of therapy, and hence the most universally-validated form of therapy, however, many mental health providers use parts and pieces from different types of therapy based on their experience of what works and the problems that their clients may be having at the time, such is the case at SimplyCalm. And many times, if symptoms are considered mild (not moderate or severe) through assessing the client, therapy (without medication) is the go-to gold-standard treatment.
Medications for Moderate to Severe Symptoms
Medications can be valuable tools in managing symptoms, particularly for individuals with moderate to severe symptoms. Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help to alleviate symptoms of both mental issues at the same time. Similarly, anti-anxiety medications, such as hydroxyzine or clonidine, may be prescribed to reduce excessive anxiety in the first two weeks of starting an SSRI.
SSRIs (Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, etc.) can sometimes take multiple weeks to begin reducing symptoms for the client. A general approach to starting an SSRI or countless other types of psychiatric meds is to start at the lowest dosage and the provider may increase the dosage over a few days to weeks until the target dosage and/or symptom-reduction is achieved.
There are certain side effects to watch out for such as sexual, appetite, sleeping, sedation, dizziness, etc. However, the best providers should tell you to always try to balance the benefits and side effects to the best possible outcome. Only the client truly knows what is and is not tolerable to them, whether we are referring to symptom reduction or dealing with side effects.
Telehealth and online therapy
Online therapy and prescriptions have become increasingly popular and accessible options for individuals seeking mental health treatment. These platforms, like SimplyCalm offers, allow individuals to receive therapy remotely, providing convenience and time-saving flexibility. Clients don’t have to drive to appointments and get out into traffic or waste gasoline. And, waiting rooms with coughing sick people, and screaming babies are non-existent. Online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy, offering a range of therapeutic approaches and support tailored to the individual’s needs.
In addition to traditional therapy and medication, many individuals find holistic approaches beneficial in managing their symptoms. Practices such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, exercise, and dietary changes can all greatly contribute to improved mental well-being. These approaches focus on the mind-body connection and promote overall wellness. Also, sometimes getting out the extra energy from a client’s body and mind can mean all the difference.
Living with these burdens
Living with mental illness can be challenging and isolating, but there are tons of strategies individuals can employ to improve their quality of life starting today. And, it is important to realize that you are not alone, that millions of people struggle with the exact same symptoms, and that you are not your symptoms or diagnosis.
Furthermore, it is essential to prioritize self-care, engage in activities that bring joy and fulfillment, and maintain a strong support network. Seeking ongoing professional help and adhering to treatment plans can also make a significant difference in managing day-to-day life and preventing relapse. Many times people just quit doing the things that have helped them the most in the past.
Supporting your loved ones
If you have a loved one struggling with these situations, providing support and understanding is crucial. Educate yourself to gain insight into their experiences. Offer a listening ear, assess their possible motivation or resistance to seeking professional help, read up on motivational interviewing and motivational enhancement therapy, and be patient with their journey toward recovery. Remember that your support can make a world of difference in their healing process.
These are undoubtedly complex mental health symptoms that often do coexist together. Recognizing the characteristics is the first step toward effective treatment. Whether through therapy, medication, telehealth, or holistic approaches, there are numerous options available to help individuals find relief and regain control of their lives. Many times, a multi-faceted approach is the best. Remember, seeking professional help is vital, and with the right support, there is hope for finding light in the darkness. View SimplyCalm online therapy or prescription plans today for improving your emotional journey.
If you or someone else is in an active suicidal crisis, call or text 988, and you may go to https://988lifeline.org/ to find out more about their free services. If a serious emergency is happening call or text 911.
You may find further information on psychiatric health at https://www.samhsa.gov/mental-health-treatment-works. *SimplyCalm is unaffiliated with all of these organizations.