I think I am depressed and anxious, do I need medication?
Written By: Melissa DaSilva, LICSW
One question that I receive a lot when I am seeing new clients is “I think I am depressed and anxious, do I need medication?” Although medication can be helpful for many people, it doesn’t have to be the first and only option. It is important to know that LGBTQ individuals are 3x more likely to struggle with anxiety and depression than other individuals. Members of the LGBTQ community are at higher risk for community suicide and are at higher risk of drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse. Although these statistics are high, mental health isn’t discussed as much as it should be. Many people feel that having depression and anxiety means that they are weak, and taking medication would just reinforce this idea. Depression and anxiety can not just be wished away or muscled through. If this was true, depression and anxiety would no longer be in existence. There are many options that can be used to help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as;
- Talk Therapy: Many people are hesitant to talk to a therapist because they don’t understand what talking to a stranger could actually do for them. When you find the right therapist, weekly sessions can decrease depression symptoms significantly. It gives you the opportunity to say and process whatever you want to a person that’s not going to judge you. They can help you understand the underlying issues that may be causing the symptoms and help you develop ways in which to cope with them. Many therapists with give homework as a way to continue your progress when your not in the office. If you don’t feel like the first therapist is a good fit for you, it’s important not to give up on the process. A lot of therapist will offer a short phone consultation so that you can get a feel of who they are before going to the office.
- Sleep, exercise and good nutrition: These may seem pretty basic, but when these basics are out of line with what nature intended it can wreak havoc on your mental health. It’s important to have good sleep hygiene every day of the week, and no naps longer than 20 minutes. Exercise for at least 20 minutes a day is very important. If you can do it outside, it’s even better. Sunlight also helps with decreasing depression symptoms. Exercising to the point of raising your heart rate helps release the “feel good” chemicals in the brain. Eating whole organic foods will help nourish the body and give it the nutrients it needs to help combat depression symptoms. It can be difficult for you to want to move and excersise when you are being weighed sown with processed fake food.
- Hypnosis: Hypnosis isn’t always used for comedy shows and quitting smoking. It can be used to help people process emotional feelings, reframe unhappy thought patterns and increase a general feeling of wellbeing. It works with the subconscious parts of the mind, and all you need to do is be willing to allow it to work.
- Trainings: Engaging in a training on how to be mindful, assertive and relaxed can be extremely beneficial for people struggling with anxiety and depression. Being present is one of the most important skills to learn in these trainings, which is a skill important when dealing with symptoms.
- Meet with a physician regularly: Sometimes depression and anxiety can be caused by medical issues. At times depression can cause medical issues. It’s important to work with a doctor to make sure that your mind and body are healthy.
Although medication can be effective, research has shown that medication can be even more effective if paired with other techniques used to address anxiety and depression. I also tell my clients that medication may not be something that you need to be on forever. It may just be something they need right now to help get over this emotional hump. Most people struggle with anxiety and depression at one point in their life. It’s important that we talk openly about it and remove the stigma so that people aren’t afraid to ask for help.
If you or someone you know would benefit from talking to a therapist, you can contact a Melissa DaSilva or one of the other therapists at East Coast Mental Wellness located in Providence RI. They offer individual and couples therapy, hypnosis and help with substance abuse.
Melissa is a licensed therapist and founder of East Coast Mental Wellness. She is an expert in the field of transgender and non-binary issues. Melissa is the host of a new LGBTQ podcast titled Pride Connections. She has many years of experience working with adolescences in schools, as a school social worker and enjoys thinking out of the box when helping adolescents and young adult harness the power of ADD/ADHD.