MARCH 20, 2015 – Depression and anxiety affect millions of people on a global scale, and especially our soldiers and veterans. As time goes on, researchers are finding better ways to treat the two conditions. Fortunately, anxiety and depression are treated similarly, and often times, individuals will receive personalized treatment in order to effectively reduce disorder symptoms.
Doctors use a wide array of psychotherapy methods in order to treat both depression and anxiety. One of the most popular forms, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), is used by helping the individual to actively replace their negative and destructive thoughts with useful and productive ones. Any professional with a masters degree in applied psychology will recommend treatments such as CBT, as they are heavily based on using a system of several steps to seek a better life after depression and anxiety. CBT can be quite effective, as it often forces an individual to directly face their fears in order to overcome them. Problem-solving therapy and interpersonal therapy are also commonly used to treat these disorders. For soldiers who have been through stressful situations and traumatic experiences, psychotherapy is effective in adjusting them to their new lives and directly facing those experiences in a safe environment.
Different types of medicines are commonly used for treating depression and anxiety. It’s common for those who suffer from depression to also suffer from anxiety (and vice versa). Therefore, doctors use treatments that are designed to target both disorders. Common treatments for these co-existing disorders include SSRIs selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors and SNRIs serotonin norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors. In severe cases, doctors will prescribe patients a combination of both psychotherapy and medication.
While medication and psychotherapy can both be effective in treating depression and anxiety, doctors will commonly recommend that patients take additional steps in overcoming their disorders.
Support groups are a great idea for any patient who is suffering from either, or both disorders. The patient can spend time connecting with other people who are also suffering from the disease, and a support system can be developed that reinforces the patient’s positive outlook. Support groups also give the patient a chance to develop new friendships. Veteran and soldier groups are available both through the government and in more private settings. Options for treating mental illnesses this way has proven especially useful for soldiers returning from combat who still crave the support and family groups they had as a team.
Doctors might also suggest that patients begin using relaxation techniques when symptoms are severe. Relaxation techniques include breathing exercises and meditation are used for reaching a state of tranquility. Rather than being an ongoing method of treatment, this method is used on a situational basis. For example, if a patient is feeling excessively anxious, they might use breathing techniques then and there to get the symptoms under control.
Lastly, exercise is also recommended for those suffering from anxiety and depression. Because exercise has been linked by research to an increase in serotonin, patients are urged to find ways to exercise at least once per day and increase the activity they have weekly. There are also available to veterans many different gyms and specialized clinics where they can get a workout and support group time with other soldiers.
Depression and anxiety are debilitating and are common diseases. It seems the stigma surrounding patients and the treatments are slowly going away as more and more this disease is being discussed and addressed. Hopefully in future we can find even more ways to combat these ills.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.