Treatment for Anxiety, Depression and Sleeping Problems: More than Drugs

Reader’s Question

I have been diagnosed with depression, and I am currently receiving treatment for it. However, I am still having a lot of anxiety as well as problems sleeping. Is there anything that I can do to help with these these things besides just taking the medication I’ve been given? I am in a perpetually bad situation that I think is the main cause of everything. Sadly though, it’s not a situation from which I can easily remove myself.

Psychologist’s Reply

Some of the medications typically prescribed for depression are insufficient to ameliorate all symptoms. In such cases, treatment often includes a combination of medicines. But mental health professionals have also long known that for many individuals medication alone is not the answer to overcoming their depressive symptoms. That’s why treatment for depression often includes other adjunct therapies, including psychotherapy or more commonly, cognitive-behavioral therapy.

You should talk these things over with your prescribing physician. There are many effective non-medical therapies available to help individuals experiencing problems with anxiety and sleep disturbance. Most non-medical therapies for anxiety focus on changing behavior patterns that inadvertently reinforce anxious responding as well as thinking patterns and beliefs that tend to increase anxiety. Non-medical therapies for overcoming sleep disturbances include learning strategies to systematically reduce stress and increase the relaxation response prior to sleep, restore a more normal sleep rhythm or cycle, and avoid the “conditioning” effects of remaining in the presence of stimuli associated with disturbed sleep or restlessness. If your prescribing physician either doesn’t provide or is not familiar with the adjunctive therapies available to help you with your problems, ask for a referral to a trusted professional who specializes in such treatment.

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