The Treatment of Anxiety and Depression
Most psychologists treat anxiety and depression. This is true because they are both so very common in the general population. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) estimates that 40 million Americans suffer from Anxiety Disorders. One reason anxiety is so common is it is actually an adaptive response to the perception that a threat exists in the environment. Anxiety becomes a problem when an individual’s reaction to this perception is more intense than the threat justifies. So, the fundamental reaction of feeling anxious in response to the perception of a threat is a healthy one. This is good news; it means that there is a healthy core within every person who seeks treatment for anxiety. Effective psychotherapy involves simply finding ways to help the client to react with a level of anxiety that is appropriate, given the actual threat.
As is the case with anxiety, depression levels vary greatly from one person to another. Some people’s depression leads them to feel sad and to have a bit less drive than they normally would have, while other people feel that they have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Likewise, some people feel excessively concerned when they take an exam or when they go to a social gathering, whereas other people experience such severe anxiety that they simply cannot participate in the activity. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is a not-for-profit organization formed to help people find help and healing from depression and other mood disorders.
The Treatment I Provide
I utilize an integrative psychotherapy method that combines aspects of Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy with Humanistic and Psychodynamic Psychotherapies. My approach is focused on client empowerment and seeks to de-mystify the problem. There are fundamental characteristics of anxiety disorders and of depression and other mood difficulties and once the client understands these, the client is in a much better position to begin the process of change and healing. Client empowerment lies at the heart of the reason this approach has often been particularly effective in helping individuals find ways to change and grow.
Under my approach, I emphasize the importance of first examining the thought, feeling and behavior patterns that underlie the feeling of anxiety or of depression. Once the client and I have identified the thought-feeling-behavior patterns, we work intensively to understand their origins and to alter the patterns in healthy ways. It is common for clients to report progress within the first few sessions. Read more about the treatment I provide for anxiety and depression (including such topics as the following anxiety disorders: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression).
Soon, this site will have more information regarding the treatment of Bipolar Disorder or, as it is known by some people, Manic Depression. Bipolar Disorder involves difficulties with moods. In ti sense it is similar to depression. But Bipolar Disorder is much more complicated than what some people think. Some people think Bipolar Disorder means a person is really happy one minute and then really sad the next minute. This may be true for certain people at certain times, but Bipolar Disorder is much more complicated than this. Here is an excellent explanation of the nature of Bipolar Disorder and of how it is treated. Bipolar Disorder can be treated very well with effective psychotherapy. More often than not, drug therapy is used in addition to psychotherapy. An excellent article for people who may be dealing with Bipolar Disorder themselves or who have a loved one dealing with it.
Psychotherapy and your Brain
One of the really exciting aspects of using psychotherapy to change unhealthy mood states or anxiety is that effective psychotherapy can help a person change for life. Although medication treatment for these difficulties can be very effective, when individuals seek to treat these difficulties with drugs alone, the benefits often disappear once the medication is stopped. When the treatment involves effective psychotherapy, the healing tends to be resistant and long lasting. In fact, there is research support for the belief that effective psychotherapy actually changes a person’s brain. In therapy, it is often helpful to discuss the ways our brains change over time as a function of the work we do in psychotherapy. In psychotherapy, we work to literally acquire new responses to experiences or to other people’s behavior. Many psychologists have for years been discussing the way the brain functions and why people become mentally unhealthy and how they can change. Now we have even more evidence that these changes in how the brain functions do actually occur (see also this additional paper).