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Common treatments for depression and anxiety include medication, psychotherapy, herbal or vitamin supplements and changes to diet and exercise habits. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and even general practitioners can evaluate a patient and then make recommendations based on their analysis. Antidepressants are the most common medical treatment for both of these conditions, but psychotherapy can often be successful without the use of medicines. The efficacy of herbal and vitamin supplements is still debated.
Medical treatments for depression and anxiety most commonly involve the use of antidepressants. These medicines fall into several categories according to their chemical makeup and effect on the brain. Common categories include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and tetracyclic antidepressants (TeCAs).
Psychotherapy treatments for depression and anxiety can vary widely, depending on the practitioner’s beliefs and tactics. The most common forms of psychotherapy for depression and anxiety are cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy involves focusing on the negative thoughts which lead to depressed or anxious thinking, while behavioral therapy involves focusing on the behaviors that can be detrimental to the quality of a patient’s everyday life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy’s goal is to focus on both and therefore be more effective. Psychotherapy can be individual or in a group, and may also be given to couples or families as well.
Treatments for depression and anxiety that do not involve a doctor include herbal supplements as well as changes to diet and exercise. St. John’s Wort is the most common herbal supplement, and clinical studies are mixed as to its effect on major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. Some clinical studies have shown great results with few side effects, while other studies have shown no impact beyond that of a placebo.
Nutritional supplements can also play a role in treatments for depression and anxiety. A trend in depression and anxiety treatment is Vitamin D. Others include omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and Vitamin B12. These changes in diet can be supplemented by an increase in regular exercise, which many feel is the most effective combatant against afflictions like mild anxiety and depression.
Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety often cause feelings of worthlessness, irritability, and insomnia, among a great many others. Sufferers of these mood disorders should seek treatment from a medical professional. In many cases, however, this is difficult due to the sheer nature of the affliction. Emotional support is sometimes needed from friends and family members in order to convince the depressed or anxiety-ridden individual to seek help.
Herbal anti-anxiety treatments such as proloftin, kava, St. John’s wort, lemon balm or valerian root are deemed to be effective and relatively safe for use as over-the-counter anxiety medications. Some sleep medications or antihistamines, particularly Benadryl and chlor-trimeton, are sometimes viewed as medicines for anti-anxiety without a prescription. This is not their intended use and doctors do not recommend taking either of these as over-the-counter anti-anxiety medications, however.
Also known as diphenhydramine, Benadryl is commonly used to treat allergy and hay fever symptoms. Individuals who experience difficulties sleeping are also sometimes advised to take Benadryl as an over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid. Benadryl, however, is not considered an anxiety treatment, but only temporarily calms symptoms associated with anxiety, such as sleeplessness.
Similar to Benadryl, chlor-trimeton is also considered by some who are seeking OTC anxiety medications. As an antihistamine, chlor-trimeton stifles symptoms associated with allergies, such as sneezing, itchy eyes, watering eyes and a runny nose. Chlor-trimeton also has a sedative effect on some, which may help reduce anxiety. Neither Benadryl nor chlor-trimeton are marketed as over-the-counter anxiety medications, however, and each comes with a list of undesirable side-effects, whether they are taken for the uses they were intended for or for anxiety.
Herbal anxiety treatments have been used for generations to relieve the symptoms of anxiety naturally. A few such herbal anxiety medications include kava, St. John’s wort, proloftin and valerian root. Each consists of natural ingredients, is available without a prescription and is deemed to be safe for adult anti-anxiety use.
Safety-approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, proloftin contains natural ingredients, including magnolia bark, L-Theanine and rhodiola rosea. It is not known to have any side effects and is available without a prescription from a variety of health food stores and online vendors. When using proloftin or any other over-the-counter anxiety medications, health experts recommend that a person consult with a physician first to be sure that herbal remedies do not interfere with other treatments or medications.
Herbal over-the-counter anxiety medications often have dual purposes. For instance, kava and valerian root are both frequently touted as effective sleep aids and anxiety relieving herbs. Kava calms the central nervous system, but does not impair mental cognition or function. Valerian root has a sedative effect on some people, especially when combined with lemon balm or St. John’s wort, which also are known to help calm and relax some individuals. While many natural over-the-counter anxiety medications are not accompanied by any major side effects, kava and valerian root have both been linked to liver damage in individuals who have engaged in long-term use of these herbs.