Combining Talk Therapy & Medication For Anxiety & Depression
When it comes to treating anxiety and depression, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. In 2020, 20.3 percent of adults in the U.S. had either taken prescription medication for mental health, received therapy or counseling, or done both in the past 12 months.1 This is an increase from the previous year, in which 19.2% of U.S. adults received mental health treatment in the past 12 months, including 15.8% who had taken prescription medication.2 Studies show that adding psychotherapy to medication in the treatment of anxiety and depression is more effective than treatment with antidepressant medication alone, especially in major depression, panic disorder, and OCD.3 These effects remain strong and significant even up to two years after treatment. If you’re curious about the benefits of talk therapy vs medication, find out if combined treatment may work for you.
Talk Therapy vs. Medication
Choosing the right treatment plan for your depression or anxiety can be complicated because different problems will respond differently to various treatments.
The most common types of talk therapy include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of psychotherapy involves identifying and challenging negative thoughts one holds about the self and the world around them to alter problematic behavioral and thought patterns and address mood disorders. Research shows that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. And some studies show that this type of therapy may be as effective or more effective than other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications.4
- Interpersonal psychotherapy: The goal of interpersonal psychotherapy is to improve the quality of a person’s interpersonal relationships and social functioning to help ease their distress. Often time-limited and hyper-focused, this type of therapy is often ideal for life transitions, episodes of grief, interpersonal disputes, and “interpersonal deficits” like social isolation or a tendency to get involved in unfulfilling relationships.5 It was originally developed to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), although its use has expanded to address other mental health conditions.
The most common types of medications for anxiety and depression include:
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants are prescription drugs used to treat mood disorders like major depressive disorder, some anxiety disorders, some chronic pain conditions, and even addiction. They typically include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro. They may also include serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Pristique, Fetzima, and Cymbalta, often used to treat irritability and ADHD.
- Anti-anxiety medication: Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ativan, Valium, and Klonopin are prescription medications that offer immediate relief for anxiety. By increasing certain neurotransmitters like GABA in the brain, they promote a feeling of calmness and sedation.
While both antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications have been found to be effective for many individuals, especially when combined with talk therapy, these drugs are also associated with a range of undesirable side effects such as nausea, headache, diarrhea, dry mouth, fatigue, weight changes, and sexual side effects. These medications may also be habit-forming and cause withdrawal effects if stopped suddenly, especially in the case of benzodiazepines.6
An alternative to prescription medications is Brillia, a homeopathic medication specifically targeted to reduce anxiety, stress, restlessness, and irritability while improving focus and a balanced mood. In place of harsh synthetic chemicals, Brillia uses antibodies to the S100B protein, which is an important regulator of various different intracellular and extracellular brain processes and is responsible for producing symptoms of anxiety and depression when it is out of balance in the body. These antibodies address anxiety at the source without producing harmful side effects. As a result of the regulating effect of Brillia on its target protein, the level of monoamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) in different parts of the brain normalizes. Brillia can even be used in conjunction with other medications or supplements because there are no contraindications. Gentle and impactful, the non-prescription medication is safe for children and adults.
What Therapy is Best for Anxiety?
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), CBT, antidepressant medications, and anti-anxiety medications have all proven to be helpful in treating anxiety disorders. However, research shows that psychotherapy is more effective than prescription medications, and that adding such medications does not significantly improve results from psychotherapy alone.7 As stated above, it should also be noted that prescription anti-anxiety medication is associated with a range of undesirable side effects and may be habit-forming and cause withdrawal effects when stopped suddenly. However, non-prescription Brillia is not associated with harmful side effects and can be started or stopped at any time without causing withdrawal effects.
What Therapy is Best for Depression?
The APA also asserts that CBT as well as interpersonal psychotherapy, in addition to antidepressant medications, have been shown to be helpful in treating depression.8 There is evidence that combining psychotherapy and medications is more effective than either treatment alone. However, people who are having suicidal tendencies may need to be treated in a hospital.
Fast Results vs. Long-Term Improvement
As stated earlier, though drugs like benzodiazepines are intended for immediate relief, they are habit-forming and will not provide long-term effects. In fact, medication and talk therapy both require that you stick with the treatment for long-term success. Similarly, Brillia takes two to three weeks to build in the system and should be taken consistently for the best results. The medication also produces the best results when combined with healthy lifestyle factors outlined in our 5-Pillar methodology, which consists of proper nutrition, adequate sleep, controlled screen times, and mindfulness practices. Combining Brillia with therapy can also help you feel more balanced by attacking anxiety, stress, low mood, and other symptoms from multiple angles. Find out how to prepare for your first therapy appointment and discover more resources on mental health at the Brillia blog.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.
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