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Therapy for Depression and Anxiety

As with any illness, treatment should be tailored to a specific diagnosis. A treatment plan for a diagnosis of depression and an anxiety disorder should be designed to help a person manage and reduce the symptoms of both disorders, often at the same time.

Some people may have a disorder that causes most of the distress, and it is reasonable to address it first. For example, if a person who is highly depressed is unable to begin treatment for an anxiety disorder, which requires high motivation and energy, it may be necessary to treat the depression first. Often, however it is difficult to tell which set of symptoms is predominant, so treatment of both may start at the same time.

Treating Depression and Anxiety Disorder

Often depression and an anxiety disorder can be treated similarly. In many cases, therapy can be tailored to an individual so that it works to reduce the symptoms of both disorders.

Several forms of psychotherapy are effective. Of these, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) works to replace negative and unproductive thought patterns with more realistic and useful ones. These treatments focus on taking specific steps to overcome anxiety and depression. Treatment often involves facing one’s fears as part of the pathway to recovery. Interpersonal therapy and problem-solving therapy are also effective.

Depression is not diagnosed by a blood test; it is diagnosed based on symptoms. If you or someone you care about is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor or a therapist for a depression screening.

Symptoms

A major depressive episode may include these symptoms:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling "slowed down"
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Low appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
  • Restlessness, irritability

Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and pain for which no other cause can be diagnosed.