The subject of mental health in the United States has steadily gained traction over the past decade. Once stigmatized and often seen as less important than physical illness, mental illness is now heavily researched, more frequently and accurately diagnosed, and treated with better methods, both medicinal and therapeutic.
Of the several recorded and diagnosed mental illnesses, anxiety and depression are some of the most common, especially in the U.S. About 18% of the adult U.S. population (40 million people) suffers from an anxiety disorder, and each year about 6.7% of the the adult U.S. population is affected by some degree of depression. Anxiety and depression are often linked, as approximately half of those with depression also have some anxiety disorder.
This high statistical prevalence may come as a shock to some, but it’s important to remember that part of the reason these numbers are so high is because doctors are now better equipped to diagnose depression and anxiety in their patients. In the past, many of these cases were misdiagnosed or simply overlooked, even if the same percentage of the population suffered from these mental illnesses.
Types of Therapy for Depression and Anxiety
As previously mentioned, researchers, scientists, and doctors have come a long way in recent years in terms of diagnosing and treating cases of depression and anxiety. While there are still no sure-fire methods of completely curing a patient with depression and/or anxiety, modern methods are becoming more effective, more varied, and less risky than ever before. Prescription drugs aren’t even necessary or best for certain treatments. Here is a breakdown of a few types of therapy for depression and anxiety.
Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy
This type of psychotherapy is used for several mental disorders, including depression and anxiety, though it is not limited to treating these things. In general its goal is to alter and eliminate negative thought patterns that cause or exacerbate depressive episodes. Essentially, at the core of one’s behaviors and feelings is one’s self-perception. When this perception is negative, it ripples out and affects the way one feels and behaves in the world. Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy aims to regulate one’s emotions and self-perception to help produce positive changes in one’s behavior and feelings.
Somatic therapy is a type of holistic therapy. Holistic medicine is typically considered non-traditional, as it focuses not only on the physical and mental, but also the spiritual and how these three entities are intertwined. Holistic methods in some cases have proven effective, despite their non-traditional status. Somatic therapy in particular views the mind and body as not separate but rather a single interconnected entity. The thought is that traumatic events of the past, especially ones that involve physicality, may manifest themselves in physical ways. As a result, talk therapy such as cognitive and behavioral therapy should be combined with physical therapy such as yoga and other movement-based healing processes. This combination can help patients cope with both mental and physical traumas that linger in the present.
A major cause of depression can stem from one’s personal relationships. Many people base their self-worth off the perceptions of those close to them, such as family members, friends, significant others, exes, and peers. Additionally, toxic relationships can have serious consequences on one’s mental health. Interpersonal therapy focuses on a patient’s relationship with others and the ways in which those relationships might negatively impact their mental health. The treatment is effective and empirically supported, making it one of the most common types of therapy for depression and anxiety.
Beyond these three types of therapy for depression and anxiety, there are several others such as mindfulness-based behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. All of these methods have proven useful in certain cases, and are better for some patients than others. Those suffering from depression should seek advice from a trusted doctor as to which type of therapy is best suited for them. Additionally, it’s always good to do some research on one’s own to get a better idea of what types of therapy for depression and anxiety are out there before making a decision.
There may be a large number of people who suffer from a mental illness today, but the future of medicine and therapy for mental illness looks bright.