If you’re feeling low and you’re looking for some new strategies to help get your mood back up, look no further. Depression and anxiety are debilitating conditions that have been shown to affect as much as one in ten people at some point in their lives.
Mental health is important in work, relationships, and overall life satisfaction. Combating depression and anxiety is critical, not just for treating existing psychiatric disorders but also because doing so can reduce your risk of developing some types of physical illnesses. From natural remedies like laughing or mimosa hostilis to medications like SSRIs — here are five ways to treat anxiety and depression.
1. Electroconvulsive Therapy
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment for severe depression in the short term. It works by directly weakening nerve cells in the brain using electric currents, similar to how surgeons use a scalpel to slice through bone. The electric currents cause a brief seizure that weakens the nerve cells. This can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety within 24 hours.
This procedure uses neuromodulation devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat major depression. This stimulation is typically done on an outpatient basis with general anesthesia and muscle relaxants to ensure you’re relaxed during the procedure. The treatment session typically only takes about 10 to 15 minutes, but you may be under sedation for one hour before the procedure and monitored for several hours afterward.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. This type of talk therapy focuses on your perceptions, thoughts, and feelings to help you improve the way you think about yourself, your life, and your problems. CBT helps you recognize negative thoughts and change them into positive ones to reduce fear and worry.
CBT is one-on-one or group-based psychotherapy that requires a strong commitment from you and your therapist. A combination of exposure therapy, e.g., gradual exposure to a feared object or situation, cognitive restructuring, e.g., learning to replace irrational thoughts with realistic ones, and skills training, e.g., relaxation training, is used in CBT. This treatment can be done on an individual or group basis and takes about one to two years to complete.
3. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a treatment that uses a magnet and a device that sends electrical pulses through the skull to stimulate nerve cells directly. TMS was originally used to treat depression, but it’s also been effective in treating anxiety disorders. At times researchers have also attributed this finding to side effects of treatment rather than the actual treatment itself. This therapy is typically done on an outpatient basis with general anesthesia and muscle relaxants to ensure you’re relaxed during the procedure.
TMS is a safe and effective therapy for major depression that’s been shown to work in as little as seven days. However, researchers caution that this therapy is not yet a perfect treatment, so it should not be used on an outpatient basis or as the first-line treatment of depression.
Exercise is crucial to maintaining physical and mental health. It’s one of the best treatment strategies for both depression and anxiety. Exercise helps relieve symptoms of depression because it releases endorphins in the brain that trigger positive feelings and help to boost your overall mood. It also increases your energy levels, which can help you become more productive at work or keep up with life’s daily demands.
You should aim for 30 minutes of exercise five times a week, but any increase in activity will positively affect your mood. Try something new, like yoga or walking, and set realistic goals, like picking the one activity you’ll do regularly.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications are often used to treat depression. SSRIs boost serotonin levels in the brain, which is believed to stabilize your mood. However, they have also proven effective in treating anxiety disorders because they boost levels of norepinephrine, another feel-good brain chemical.
SSRIs can be prescribed alone or combined with other medication or alternative treatments for anxiety, like exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). While SSRIs are among the most commonly prescribed medications for depression, they can have side effects. They work by directly or indirectly altering the levels of chemicals in your brain that affect mood.
Several natural remedies can help treat depression and anxiety. Using one of these five strategies can significantly reduce the symptoms of depression or anxiety, but you should always talk to your doctor before trying these remedies. If you’re considering starting a treatment program, consider talking to your doctor or mental health provider first.