Treatments for Anxiety and Depression

Updated: Apr 27, 2021


depression and anxiety: treatments include neurofeedback, emdr, cbt, and drugs

Some common signs of depression are being plagued with feelings of profound sadness and hopelessness, extreme mood swings, a total loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed, drastic changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or sleeping all the time) or in appetite. Depression is very common, and it is estimated that 20% to 25% of women and 7% to 12% of men will experience depression over the course of their life. Depression can be experienced in episodes (either mild, moderate, or severe) or a chronic condition, usually mild.

Frequent panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, a paralyzing phobia, or unrelenting worries, are classic symptoms of an anxiety disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 18% of the adult population. Anxiety disorders is an umbrella term which includes generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The duration of symptoms typically classifies it as a chronic disorder.

Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Some people also experience both together, and each condition can trigger the other. In fact, almost half of all people with major depression also suffer from severe and persistent anxiety.

Depression and anxiety can take different forms, and symptoms and severity vary from one person to the next. And just as there are a number of ways which people experience depression and anxiety, there are also a number of ways to treat anxiety and depression, both separately and when they appear together.

When it comes to treating anxiety and depression, there is no "one size fits all" treatment procedure. Often, a mix of different types of treatments will prove the most effective, and what works for one person might not work for another. However, with effective treatment, anxiety and depression can be managed and the person experiencing it can regain control of their life.

A licensed mental health professional can help tailor each treatment option to meet each person's specific needs, symptoms, and diagnosis. If you suspect you are suffering from depression, anxiety or a combination of the two, it is important to speak with your doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.

Types of Treatment for Depression and Anxiety

Let’s review and compare some of the common therapies used to treat anxiety and depression.

Medication

There are several types of medication that can be prescribed for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorder. Medications may take up to 4 weeks before their impact is noticeable. During this period, concentration, sleep, and appetite will gradually improve as symptoms decrease. In some cases, a patient may need to try different medications before finding one that works best for them. However, it is important to give the medication time before concluding that it is not effective.

Common medications for depression and anxiety include SSRIs, SNRIs and BZDs.

When symptoms of anxiety disorders occur together, one common form of treatment is with antidepressants like serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications. While they are known as anti-depressants, these medications have been found to be effective in managing symptoms of anxiety disorders as well. Medications such as beta-blockers and benzodiazepines (BZDs) can also be prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorder.

One downside to medications is that they can have side effects. People using antidepressants may experience headaches, sexual dysfunction, drowsiness and nausea. The use of BZD’s can cause sedation, ataxia, as well as difficulties with concentration, memory, and balance. BZD's are also an addictive substance, and may not be suitable for individuals with a history of substance abuse. Although side effects are often mild and tend to lessen over time, they can be unpleasant or uncomfortable. As with all medications, some individuals will experience more serious reactions or side effects than others, and some will be more responsive to the medication.

Nevertheless, the risks of untreated depression or anxiety disorder far outweigh the side effects of the antidepressant medications in most people. One of the biggest mistakes people make with medication is giving up too early, before the medication has a chance to take effect, and in stopping their medication without consulting their doctor first. Many people start taking medication, and then, once they begin to feel better, stop their medication on their own. Medication should always be taken as prescribed, and you should always speak to your doctor before changing a dose or stopping medication.

Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback, also known as EEG (electroencephalogram) biofeedback, is a therapeutic intervention that uses EEG technology to train the brain to function better. This treatment method is designed to gradually train your brain in order to return it to normal functioning. When your brain cells interact with one another, electrical impulses called brain waves are created. These brain waves are indicative of your overall brain function and reflect your inner state (to read more about brain waves see here). People suffering from anxiety and depression often have different patterns of brain waves than those who are not experiencing these challenges.

Neurofeedback measures the electrical impulses in your brain and trains it to function better over time.

At times, your brain can get overstimulated or understimulated, and you may experience certain chronic emotions capable of altering your normal way of life. Neurofeedback can help with these brain imbalances.

So how does Neurofeedback work? This therapy uses a computerized program to assess an individual's brainwave frequencies and give feedback on the brain activity which targets areas of dysfunction. The program then uses visual or sound signals (often in the form of games or videos) to train the central nervous system to regulate and reorganize brain signals. As a result, individuals can learn to improve their brain function, directly helping to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other neurological disorders.

The average neurofeedback therapy program will involve sessions of 40 minutes each twice or three times a week for twenty to thirty weeks with the use of sensors which are attached to your scalp. Myndlift offers neurofeedback (EEG biofeedback) equipment with powerful clinical control which provides patients with an affordable and safe way to train their brain using EEG feedback anytime, anywhere.

With Myndlift, your neurofeedback therapist can easily monitor your brainwave data and training progress with real-life metrics remotely. Your therapist will set up a customized training program for you, based on your symptoms and treatment goals. The training is done on a mobile phone or tablet, by watching videos or games while wearing a lightweight headset and a single electrode connected using paste to your head. You can do your training regularly in the comfort of your own home, as often as recommended by your therapist, without the need to visit the clinic multiple times a week.

Neurofeedback will help you train your brain to achieve a calmer, more relaxed, focused and more efficient state. With repetitive training sessions, you will learn how to guide your brain to more desirable and controlled patterns, and, with dedicated practice, you will begin to notice an improvement in your mental health. Neurofeedback is non-invasive and doesn’t involve putting any chemicals or medications into your body. As with all treatments, neurofeedback is not a good fit for everyone. To learn more and see if neurofeedback can help you, visit our providers page to find a Myndlift clinician near you.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR therapy is a direct psychotherapy treatment that is used to help people cope with depression, anxiety, and other emotional trauma. The method was introduced in 1987 by a psychologist named Francine Shapiro. Over the years, research has shown it to be effective and helpful in treating some mental health disorders.

Unlike other psychotherapeutic approaches, EMDR does not rely solely on talk therapy to treat neurological disorders, but rather combines it with the patient's own rapid, rhythmic eye movements.

EMDR therapy is typically broken down into 8 phases: