by Megan Ford, MSW, LSW, Therapist, Relief Mental Health in Rockford, IL
Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety is essential in providing support and care to oneself, friends, and loved ones who may be struggling. Over the past five years, mental health awareness in the United States has seen significant progress. In 2018, the country faced two distinct mental health crises: the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic among adults and the alarming rise in suicide rates among youth and teens. Suicide became the second leading cause of death among individuals aged 18-25, prompting increased attention to mental health concerns.
The COVID-19 pandemic further impacted mental health. It led to a surge in depression and anxiety rates across all age groups in 2020 and 2021. Although these rates stabilized in 2022, the residual effects of the pandemic continue to contribute to high levels of depression and anxiety among adults in the United States.
Prevalence of Depression and Anxiety
In the U.S., around 20 million report depression and close to 80 million report anxiety diagnoses. This is an increase of nearly 20 percent for each diagnosis from pre-pandemic levels. These rising rates underscore the importance of keeping a watchful eye on friends, family, and loved ones.
Depression and Anxiety: Symptoms
Clinical depression and anxiety differ from ordinary periods of sadness or worry that do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis. For both conditions, the threshold for a clinical diagnosis is relatively high. Symptoms must be present every day for at least two weeks and significantly disrupt daily life, causing impairments in work, school, social activities, and/or relationships.
Depression warning signs include persistent sadness, excessive crying, feelings of worthlessness, detachment from activities and loved ones, difficulty concentrating, changes in weight, sleep disturbances, unexplained physical pains, and even suicidal thoughts or behaviors. It is crucial to take any talk of suicide seriously and seek immediate help from professionals.
Anxiety manifests emotionally as fear, agitation, irritation, negative forecasting, and constant tension or stress. Physically, anxiety may lead to tachycardia, unexplained aches and pains, tremors, excessive sweating, and gastrointestinal issues.
Treatment for Depression and Anxiety
Treatment for depression and anxiety usually involves a combination of counseling or therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and complementary therapies. Counseling can be individual, or in groups. In some cases, it may involve family sessions. Our providers use therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). In addition, anxiety may be treated with prolonged exposure therapy (PET), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and exposure and response prevention (ERP).
Medications such as antidepressants (e.g., selective serotonin uptake inhibitors like Prozac and Zoloft) and anxiolytics (e.g., benzodiazepines like Xanax and Klonopin) are often prescribed to manage symptoms. New treatments for depression, treatment-resistant depression, and certain anxiety diagnoses include SPRAVATO® (esketamine) and ketamine. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive treatment recently approved by the FDA, providing quick relief from depressive symptoms.
New Approaches to Treatment
Complementary therapies like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture can help reduce stress and improve mental health. Lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity, can also positively impact mental well-being.
There has been a notable transformation in attitudes toward mental health, with increased awareness and reduced stigma. People now openly discuss their experiences with treatment and therapy, celebrating successes and sharing their journeys with friends and family.
Despite this progress, it remains crucial for individuals experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety to seek professional support promptly. Mental health conditions rarely resolve on their own and can worsen if left untreated. Encouraging early intervention and supporting friends and loved ones in seeking help from mental health professionals can lead to more successful treatment outcomes.
About Relief Mental Health
Relief Mental Health is an outpatient provider of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and psychedelic antidepressant therapy (SPRAVATO® esketamine). We also provide psychiatry/medication management services and talk therapy. We offer treatment for depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and other mental health diagnoses. A member of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce, Relief Mental Health has 10 clinics in three states, including one right here in Rockford. For more information, visit reliefmh.com, call 855.205.4764 or email email@example.com.