Why Combining Medications With Therapy Is the Best Way to Treat Depression and Anxiety
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Mental illness is a serious issue, one that impacts millions of people across the globe. In the United States alone, roughly one in five adults experiences some form of mental illness during any given year. It’s an alarming statistic, to be sure. Unfortunately, many of these individuals struggle to find appropriate treatment for their conditions. For instance, while anti-depressant medications are frequently prescribed as a first-line treatment for those struggling with depression and anxiety, they aren’t the only effective remedy for these conditions. In fact, combining medication with therapy can often be far more beneficial than either option on its own. When used together in conjunction with another person’s support and guidance, these two methods of treating depression and anxiety are exponentially more likely to produce positive results.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on understanding the connection between your thoughts and feelings. CBT is often used to treat a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, and even substance use disorders. The therapy is focused on resolving current issues and preventing future problems. CBT works by helping you to identify and replace unhealthy or inaccurate thoughts and beliefs that are contributing to your distress with more positive and realistic ones. You can do this through a variety of different techniques, including mindfulness, relaxation, and positive imagery.
What is Medication-Assisted Therapy?
Medication-assisted therapy, or MAT, is a term used to describe the use of anti-depressants alongside therapy. In most cases, these anti-depressants are SSRIs, a type of antidepressant that is generally considered safe to use in conjunction with therapy. While not all mental health professionals are in agreement on the best way to treat depression and anxiety, many consider MAT a better option than treating these conditions with CBT alone. And while combining medication with CBT is not without its own set of complications, it is undeniably safer, more efficient, and more effective than treating depression and anxiety with only one of these options. When used in conjunction with CBT, these medications are far more likely to produce positive results.
How do these two methods work together to treat depression and anxiety?
The most effective way to treat depression and anxiety with medication and therapy is to start both treatments at the same time. In other words, individuals who start taking anti-depressants as soon as they begin experiencing symptoms of depression are far more likely to experience therapeutic benefits from these medications. In the same way, those who start attending therapy sessions as soon as they are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are much more likely to gain lasting benefits from these sessions. The reason behind this is simple: it’s much easier to treat depression and anxiety when it’s in its early stages. When symptoms first appear, they are relatively mild. As time goes on, they become more severe. When symptoms are mild, they are far easier to treat. It’s possible to address the issues causing your symptoms in a single session. When symptoms are severe, however, this is an almost impossible feat.
Depression and Anxiety Medications
The medications most frequently prescribed for depression and anxiety are SSRIs, or serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These medications increase serotonin levels in the brain, which is one of the main neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood. If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, it’s important to discuss your treatment options with a medical professional. This can help you decide which treatment method is best for you, and can help you avoid unnecessary side effects. When it comes to side effects, no two medications are exactly the same. It is, therefore, important to be fully aware of any and all potential side effects associated with the medication you choose to take. This way, you can make an informed decision about the best way to treat your depression or anxiety.
Limitations of medication-assisted therapy
Although medication-assisted therapy is a far more effective form of treatment than CBT alone, it does have its own set of limitations. First and foremost: it takes time. While effects are often seen after just a few weeks of consistent usage, it can take months for these medications to reach full potency. This means that, for some, the effects of these medications aren’t seen until the very end of their prescribed treatment plan. While it’s important to remember that medication-assisted therapy takes time, it is also important to be patient with yourself during the process. This is especially true during the beginning stages of treatment, when your medication is at its weakest.
Limitations of CBT alone
CBT is an effective form of treatment. When administered by a skilled therapist, it is often capable of producing significant results within a few short sessions. Unfortunately, the benefits of CBT often wear off after a few months. This is a problem, considering that many people struggling with anxiety disorders are likely to need treatment for years, if not the rest of their lives. There is, however, a solution to this problem: lifelong therapy. While it isn’t necessary to attend therapy sessions for the rest of your life, many mental health professionals recommend attending sessions for a minimum of a year. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the financial means to continue therapy for this length of time. While some therapists offer reduced or free sessions for those who can’t pay for their services, many do not. This leads many to discontinue therapy before it is complete, forfeiting their hard-earned results. While it is possible to treat anxiety disorders with CBT alone, these disorders are often life-long disorders. This means that those who don’t have the funds to attend therapy for the long-term are unlikely to maintain the results they’ve worked so hard to achieve.
When used in conjunction, cognitive behavioral therapy and medication-assisted therapy are far more likely to produce positive results. While both methods are effective on their own, their effects are compounded when administered together. For those struggling with anxiety or depression, these are important facts to keep in mind. While it can be difficult to find the financial means to attend therapy sessions and/or pay for anti-depressant medications, it is worth it. When depression and anxiety go untreated, they often become more severe over time. This can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions, which can end in tragedy. Fortunately, there are effective treatments for depression and anxiety. It is important to remember that it takes time, patience, and perseverance to see results.
Clear Mind Treatment has a combination medication and therapy program that can help you get past depression and anxiety. Give us a call if you want to learn more.