1. Depression and anxiety are common conditions that can be treated. Despite the fact that many people keep their depression and anxiety hidden from others, studies show that they are very common and affect between 20 to 40 percent of Australians. In fact, depression is the second most common disorder in the world and can cause significant distress and heartache for the sufferer and his/her family.
These facts can be surprising for many people because mental illness is often a ‘secret illness’ that is not openly discussed. The good news for sufferers of depression and anxiety is that with appropriate treatment, they are both very treatable conditions. The problem is that many treatments are incomplete and therefore only provide moderate relief for sufferers. 2.
Medication is NOT the best treatment for depression. Antidepressant drugs are commonly used to ‘treat’ both depression and anxiety and are often the first line of treatment offered by general practitioners (GPs) and psychiatrists in Australia. There are a number of different classes of antidepressants on the Australian market, each targeting depression through slightly different mechanisms. However, virtually all antidepressants have the primary goal of increasing certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.
Despite the fact that antidepressants are now a well-accepted treatment option for people suffering from depression and anxiety, they are far from perfect and along with their side effects (see table below), are ineffective for many people. Studies show that they fail to produce full recovery for more than 50% of people who go on them! The reason for their limited results is because they only target one cause of depression and anxiety (i. e.
, low neurotransmitters) without addressing other important underlying causes. They also do nothing to resolve the reason for the low neurotransmitter level in the first place; was it nutritional deficiencies, hormone imbalances, inflammation, excess toxins, etc? Furthermore, there is a wealth of information and scientific research now demonstrating that natural products are equally as effective, if not more so, than prescription antidepressant medication. BCN’s UpLift is an example of a natural supplement that has been designed by a clinical psychologist and nutritionist to help people increase neurotransmitter production naturally.
Prescribing antidepressants may help a person feel better but if the underlying cause is not identified and treated then a person may have to take them for the rest of their life. If they choose to stop using them, relapse is likely. We must address mental health problems using a more comprehensive, ‘holistic’ approach as opposed to simply prescribing drugs. 3.
Psychological therapy may be helpful for some people but is often not enough. Psychological therapies are a common treatment approach for depression and anxiety primarily offered by psychologists, counsellors and other mental health practitioners. Psychological therapy is generally a ‘talking therapy’ based on a range of different psychological models. Some of the more popular therapies include: Many of these therapies can be very helpful for people suffering from depression and anxiety, with CBT and ACT presently being popular therapies offered by psychologists in Australia.
New therapies are constantly being introduced in Australia and while some of them are very promising, others are completely ineffective or even outright dangerous. The effectiveness of the therapy often depends on the competence and professionalism of the therapist. Similar to antidepressant medication, psychological therapy is unfortunately not helpful for everyone. Its effectiveness is generally comparable to drug treatment although progress is generally slower.
However, some studies show that relapse rates are lower. Unfortunately, as is the case with medication, a similar problem applies with psychological therapy. That is, it treats some causes but leaves many untouched. This is fine when the causes of depression and/or anxiety are of a psychological nature, but this approach is ineffective when some of the causes are of a physical, nutritional or lifestyle origin.
4. Depression and anxiety are caused by multiple factors. It is generally believed that depression and anxiety are caused by either ‘deficiencies in brain chemicals’ or by ‘traumas and childhood upbringing’. While these factors can certainly be important, they are not the sole causes of depression and anxiety and often are not even relevant for certain people.
Therefore, any treatment that only targets these causes will only work for a limited number of people. The reality is that there are multiple causes of depression and anxiety but unfortunately most of them are not even considered by almost all mental health professionals. These causes relate to psychological, biological, social, dietary, and lifestyle factors. Some of these causes are listed in the table below.
By observing the list below it is easy to see why simply taking a drug, or treating depression and anxiety with psychological counselling may not be enough, and oftentimes, may be totally ineffective. ‘One-size-fits-all’ approaches do not work, and each person’s unique situation must be assessed before a treatment approach is offered. ’ 5. To effectively overcome depression and anxiety, the causes MUST be treated.
There are a number of treatments available to help overcome depression and anxiety. Many are effective and can be helpful, however, the extent of their effectiveness depends on whether or not they are treating the cause (or causes). Unfortunately, the problem with many treatments offered by psychologists, psychiatrists, general practitioners and other mental health professionals is that they may only be targeting one or two causes, leaving many others untouched. This may provide some improvement for the sufferer, but ultimately the person does not become fully well again.
‘Band-aid solutions’ result in minimal change that is unlikely to be sustained. When it comes to mental health (and physical health) the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach simply does not work. That is why only 30-50 percent of people benefit from ‘traditional’ mental health treatments. 6.
While your doctor or therapist might be an expert on mental illness, you are the expert on YOU! Mental health practitioners such as psychologists and psychiatrists have received extensive training in mental illness and are generally considered experts in this area. Your GP also has some training in mental illness although certainly not as extensive. Despite this mental health training, these health-care practitioners are not experts on you.
You know your body and your mind the best and it is important that you remember this when you seek treatment for depression and anxiety. Whilst it is important to listen to the recommendations made by your doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist, treatment should be a collaborative approach and if you feel that you are not being listened to or your concerns are not being taken seriously, then do seek a second, third or fourth opinion. 7. Choose a mental health practitioner who is knowledgeable about the various causes of depression and anxiety AND can treat your SPECIFIC causes!
When seeking treatment for your depression and/or anxiety the practitioner that you choose is extremely important. Choosing the wrong practitioner can lead to minimal recovery and extended emotional turmoil. Unfortunately, the training that different practitioners receive will determine the type of treatment that will be offered. As a general rule (although not always), doctors rely on biological models (i.
e. , treat neurotransmitters with drugs) and psychologists rely on psychological models to help overcome a person’s depression and/ or anxiety. The following saying certainly applies when it comes to depression and anxiety treatment: ‘If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail! Although they do the best they can, doctors or other mental-health practitioners simply fail to take into account the other causes of depression and anxiety because they have never been trained in the other areas and therefore do not even ask about them!
Furthermore, some may know that the causes are important but just do not know what to do about them. Unfortunately, there are some practitioners who often cause a lot of harm because they comment on something they know very little about. They may disqualify a treatment even though they have received little training or education in the area. This is commonly the case when it comes to nutrition and mental health.
Many doctors and psychologists believe things like nutritional deficiencies have little impact on mental health despite there being an enormous amount of research to the contrary. As a result, many of their patients receive substandard treatment and may never overcome their mental health condition at any stage of their life. Everyone should have access to the most effective treatments available for their mental health condition. Furthermore, doctors and mental health professionals should not disregard treatments simply because it wasn’t part of past or current training.