Anxiety & depression

Causes | Types of Anxiety | Types of Depression | Diagnosis | Treatment

Most people will feel anxious or depressed at some time in their lives. Dealing with difficult situations such as death, family problems, job issues, school struggles and other issues can affect people’s stress levels causing anxiety and depression. These types of reactions are normal on an occasional basis. Many people experience anxiety and depression nearly every day for no apparent reason, however, thus making it difficult to function normally on a daily basis. These people have an anxiety disorder, manic depression, or possibly both. Although people associate anxiety and depression with each other, they are actually two very different disorders.

Types of Anxiety

There are several different types of anxiety disorders, each with their own effect on a person’s well-being. Anxiety disorders are serious illnesses and can cause constant worrying and fear, making it difficult for people to handle everyday situations.

  • Panic Disorder – this type of anxiety can cause feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly without warning. People with panic disorder may also experience abnormal sweating, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, and a feeling of being choked. Many people have reported it feeling like a heart attack.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder – many people experience an abnormally overwhelming sense of self-consciousness in social situations. Although some nervousness around large groups is normal, the fear of everyday social situations is a reason for concern.
  • Specific Phobias – many people have fears of specific things, such as a fear of heights, spiders, close spaces, etc. Although certain levels of fear are considered normal, having intense fear of a specific thing is usually uncalled for and may interfere with normal everyday living situations.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder – although it’s common to have everyday worries, it is abnormal to have excessive worries when there is nothing to worry about. Many people are anxious daily about unrealistic things happening.

Types of Depression

Being sad on occasion is normal, however when sadness and despair are constant, it’s time to seek help, as this means a person may have a type of depression that needs to be treated. There are various types of depression, all of which have their own symptoms.

  • Major Depression – sometimes referred to as “major depressive disorder,” this is when a person feels depressed the majority of the time, almost every day of the week. Symptoms may include:
    • Loss of interest in doing something a person usually enjoys
    • Weight gain/loss
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Trouble concentrating at work/school
    • Trouble eating
    • Feeling of worthlessness
    • Suicidal thoughts
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder – formerly referred to as “dysthymia,” this is a form of depression that usually lasts longer than two years. It has the same symptoms of major depression, but not as severe.
  • Bipolar Disorder – formerly referred to as “manic depression,” this is a type of depression that manifests itself in mood swings that range from extreme highs to extreme lows. During the extreme high phase, a person may seem abnormally happy, have increased energy, outrageous notions or ideas, and decreased need for sleep. This phase may be dangerous because it can bring on inappropriate behavior, poor judgement and a high level of irritability. During the low phase, a person has the same symptoms of major depression, but at an extreme level.
  • Psychotic Depression – manifests in the same way major depression, however it also includes psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia and delusions.
  • Postpartum Depression – this can affect new mothers in the weeks or months after childbirth. The symptoms are much the same as major depression.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder – many people get depressed during the winter months and holidays. Many claim it’s due to the holiday blues, however experts believe it’s due to the fact that the daylight grows shorter and people aren’t getting enough sunlight.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD/PMS) – many women experience the feeling of depression at the start of their period. During this time they may also experience enhanced mood swings, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, change in appetite, etc.
  • Situational Depression – this is the natural period of depression when something negative happens to a person (e.g. death, divorce, or loss of a job).

Diagnosis

Anxiety and depression are different, however people suffering from depression often experience anxiety symptoms. This is also true of people with anxiety who experience depression due to their anxiety disorder. There is no evidence that one causes the other, but there is clear evidence that many people suffer from both disorders.
During a consultation, the doctor will obtain a full medical history as well as ask specific questions relating to the onset of symptoms. They may also order blood tests to rule out other diseases. Although a blood test cannot confirm anxiety or depression, it will show abnormal hormone levels that may be associated with conditions that could cause depressive symptoms, including vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disorders, liver and kidney malfunctions, etc. Additional diagnostic imaging may also be used to rule out other underlying conditions that may be associated with anxiety and depression disorders.

Treatment

Because everyone is different, the treatment for a specific disorder should be customized to the specific needs of the individual. Often the treatments for anxiety and depression may be similar depending on a person’s symptoms. There are varying degrees of treatments available for each disorder, from medications to support groups, psychotherapy to electroconvulsive therapy.
For most people, the thought of any of these treatment options is scary, which may keep them from getting the help they need. The experts at SCU Health System believe there is a more natural, less invasive and less costly way to treat anxiety and depression. Our evidence-based treatment programs provide patients with an alternative to the usual psychiatric path. Our treatment options include:

  • Acupuncture – according to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, patients who underwent a six week study in which one group of patients were treated with acupuncture and one group was treated with Prozac, showed that the patients treated with acupuncture exhibited a similar improvement in symptoms as those treated with Prozac, but the acupuncture treatment group improved faster, experiencing reduced symptoms more dramatically at weeks two and four than the Prozac group did.
  • Ayurveda – research shows that many physiological imbalances contribute to anxiety and depression. Because people may or may not exhibit the same symptoms for different reasons, Ayurveda treatment works to balance many physiological functions simultaneously to effectively remove toxins and impurities that may be causing the imbalance associated with the symptoms of varying disorders.
  • Herbal Remedies – there are various herbal remedies that will reduce anxiety. SCU Health System’s onsite herbal pharmacy provides many herbal supplements both in raw and tablet form to treat anxiety and depression the natural way.

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