Treating Depression and Anxiety
Did you know that anxiety and depression treatment sums up to be the costliest mental health conditions nationwide. More people seek help for depression and anxiety than any other. Daniel Amen, M.D. dis some interesting research on depression that few prescribers know about. Dr. Amen is known for his brain scanning. In this study, he took 300 people with identical symptoms of depression. He scanned all of them to get a look at what was going on in their brains given all the new technology available.
He expected if everyone has the same symptoms, their brain scans should look similar to each other, but what happened was he got seven different brain scans. This meant that all 300 fell into one of seven types of images, and that means that though they had the same symptoms what was happening inside their brains was very different. Some of the brains revealed symptoms that were serotornergic but many were not. In English that means that some of the brain scans reflecting depression involved the neurotransmitter Serotonin, indicating a therapeutic application of antidepressant medication. Many did not and that means that SSRI anti-depressant medications are not only not indicated but they will not work. This sheds light on why it seems this common disorder is difficult to treat (at times).
Causes of Depression and Anxiety
Depression can present as congenital (we are born with it), seen in family lines and bipolar depression comes with at least one cycle of mania or agitation and a family history to confirm diagnosis. Then there is depression that happens with a life change happens such as a serious loss or loss of functioning. There is a depression that couples with anxiety affecting 1 in 5 adults. Brain tumors, brain injury and hormone disorders all can be causal of depressive symptoms.
When we go to a prescriber with depression, they do not do Dr. Amen style brain scans as they are very expensive and are not covered by insurance. The response almost universally is to prescribe a SSRI anti-depressant medication. As you can see from Dr. Amen’s study, if we diagnose and prescribe according to symptoms, we risk getting it wrong. Let’s look at other causes of depression, in particular depression when linked with anxiety. Depression is often the first presentation of PTSD. Anxiety is the second way PTSD presents and often when we see the two together, we also see (if we ask..) problems in childhood related to the nurturing styles of those raising us. Thus, if someone presents with depression, getting a family history is helpful, but as well a history from birth of the symptom bearing person is a must.
This type does not respond well to SSRIs. So what works? One’s past is held in our memory, and In EMDR we work with memory. EMDR can provide long term and permanent relief to both depression and anxiety. In the short run, if we look at those brain scans we can see that the depressed and anxious brain light up the center limbic part of the brain and the outer and frontal cortexes are quiet. In scans of a person’s brain who is in a meditative state, we see the exact opposite: quiet limbic, active frontal cortex and insula (has to do with awareness). Thus, mindfulness practices can provide medication free short- term relief. In my practice, I teach rapid ways to access brain change as well as easy to do approaches to mindfulness. If you are ready to seek anxiety and depression treatment, contact me today!