We can handle it, right? How often do we try to convince ourselves that whatever emotional difficulties we may be experiencing are no big deal, that everybody struggles, and to just buck up and deal? For some, the idea of opening up and exposing one’s most intimate struggles with a complete stranger may be the roadblock keeping them from seeking professional guidance. Others may worry about appearing weak, like they are unable to cope with life’s challenges. Still others shudder at the though of being stigmatized for needing some mental health treatment.
The reality is that a huge swath of mankind struggles with mental health conditions, especially anxiety and depression. Combined, these two mental health disorders affect over 55 million Americans each year. This means that a whopping 1/5 of us are in the same boat—hardly an insignificant number. So let’s just recognize that mental health issues are rampant and instead of stigmatizing each other wouldn’t it be more productive to encourage counseling for anxiety and depression?
See a therapist can be a life-altering experience. Here we have been attempting to manage our problem alone, living inside our own head and perpetuating the disorder, when there are professional mental health practitioners available to compassionately guide us toward relief and wellness! What counseling for anxiety and depression provides is a leg up toward becoming a better functioning person, giving us a blueprint to vastly improve our quality of life. Why suffer alone in the deep dark crevices of one’s mind when there are trained experts available to help us out of that place.
How to Select an Effective Therapist
Once you have decided it is time to pursue counseling for anxiety and depression you may feel completely overwhelmed at the task ahead. How do you select a good therapist? Insurance providers may offer a long list of potential mental health providers, but how do you sift through them and find the best fit?
While there is no fast and easy answer to that question, there are some questions you can ask while attempting to refine your options. These include:
- Do you provide both psychiatric and psychotherapy services?
- Do you treat anxiety disorders? Depression?
- What area of mental health do you specialize in?
- Do you provide a free consultation?
- What licensures do your psychotherapists hold?
- Do you include holistic methods in treatment plans?
- What therapy modality do you specialize in?
Once you have narrowed down the options to two or three, go ahead and schedule a free consultation. A personality fit is critical to gaining benefits from counseling, and the consultation gives you a good feel for if your personalities will jive. Weren’t feeling it with the first one? Simply schedule another consult with a different provider, and don’t begin treatment until you feel comfortable with a certain therapist.
How Anxiety and Depression is Diagnosed
During the initial intake interview with a therapist or psychiatrist a thorough evaluation of the presenting issues and symptoms will be conducted. The interview itself can often provide ample information and insights to assist the therapist in assessing whether the client is experiencing clinical depression or anxiety. Diagnostic criteria provided by the DSM-5, as well as other assessment tools, can help to arrive at a diagnosis, as well as any accompanying features.
Diagnostic criteria for depression:
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness
- Diminished interest in activities usually enjoyed
- Sleep disturbance
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Slowed or agitated motor functioning
- Fatigue, low energy
- Feelings of shame, worthlessness, guilt
- Inability to concentrate, make decisions
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Diagnostic criteria for anxiety:
- Excessive, uncontrollable worry
- Restlessness, on edge, agitated
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance
Some individuals have comorbid anxiety and depression and will need treatment that addresses both disorders. It has been found that up to 60% of individuals with major depressive disorder have coexisting moderate anxiety, and 20-25% have severe anxiety, according to an article published in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
What Does Therapy Look Like?
Treating anxiety and/or depression will rely on foundational methods, such as psychotherapy and medication, as well as adjunctive therapies and/or suggested lifestyle tweaks. The specific treatment plan will be determined by various factors, such as the presence of a co-occurring disorder (such as substance use disorder or an additional mental health disorder), the unique features associated with the diagnosis, patient motivation for change, and realistic goal setting.
Psychotherapy: Individual and/or group sessions where a psychiatrist or psychotherapist guide the individual in identifying self-defeating thought and behavior patterns and guide them towards replacing them with positive, constructive ones using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Psychodynamic therapy may be helpful for those with a history of trauma or abuse.
Medication: Antidepressant drug therapy is the cornerstone for treating depressive disorder, and can also be helpful for some types of anxiety disorder. For anxiety, benzodiazepines are the usual class of drug prescribed.
Holistic: Adding stress-reducing activities to the treatment plan can compliment the traditional therapies. These might include yoga, mindfulness, guided meditation, deep breathing exercises, regular exercise, and acupuncture.
Anew Era Psychiatry Provides Expert Counseling for Anxiety and Depression
Anew Era Psychiatry is a leader in the field of psychotherapy and mental health treatment serving Southern California. For those struggling with anxiety and/or depression who are ready to make positive changes in their lives, Anew Era Psychiatry is ready to help. Our compassionate psychiatric team is dedicated to helping individuals restore mental wellness and enjoy a more fulfilling life. For more information about our services, please contact Anew Era Psychiatry today at (949) 577-6853.