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Ways to treat anxiety and depression

If you are in crisis or need urgent mental health support, get help now from the NHS. If someone's life is at risk, for example they've seriously injured themselves or taken an overdose, go to A&E or call 999. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical one.
Treatment options

There are several treatment options for anxiety and depression, and your doctor will base their recommendation on your symptoms[1,2].

Treatments can include lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medicine[1].

Lifestyle changes

It’s important to take care of your physical health in order to support your mental health. Many people with depression and anxiety benefit from making lifestyle changes such as getting more regular exercise, stopping smoking, eating healthily and cutting down on alcohol[1,3,4].

Talking therapies

There are lots of different types of talking therapies, all designed to help you feel better[5]. You may have heard talking therapies referred to as counselling.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a type of talking therapy, is one of the most common treatments for anxiety, depression and a range of other mental health problems[6]. It focuses on challenging negative thoughts and behaviours to help people manage situations in a more positive way[7]. The NHS website has more information on CBT.

As well as being referred by your GP, you can also refer yourself for counselling through the NHS website.

Medicine (antidepressants)

Antidepressants are a type of medication mainly used to treat clinical depression. They’re often prescribed alongside a talking therapy, like CBT. Antidepressants are also used to treat a range of other conditions, including:
generalised anxiety disorder

  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • post-traumatic stress disorder

  • chronic pain[8].

Read more about different types of antidepressants, including common side effects and how they work, on the NHS website.

Published

April 2021

Next review

April 2022

Reviewed by

Gill Stone MRPharmS

References

  1. 1.

    Overview - Clinical depression. nhs.uk. Published February 15, 2021. Accessed March 19, 2021.

    https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/overview/
  2. 3.

    Self-help - Generalised anxiety disorder in adults. nhs.uk. Published February 10, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2021.

    https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/self-help/
  3. 5.

    Benefits of talking therapies. nhs.uk. Published February 4, 2021. Accessed March 23, 2021.

    https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/talking-therapies-and-counselling/benefits-of-talking-therapies/
  4. 7.

    Overview - Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). nhs.uk. Published February 10, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2021.

    https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/talking-therapies-and-counselling/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt/overview/
  5. 8.

    Overview - Antidepressants. nhs.uk. Published February 5, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2021.

    https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/medicines-and-psychiatry/antidepressants/overview/