Anxiety and Depression
People experiencing anxiety and depression can feel isolated and alone, but they aren’t. Depression affects 15 million people in the United States each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million people
annually, says the Anxiety Disorder Association of America. This guide will help you understand these disorders, learn about the many available treatment options and reassure you that you aren’t alone.
For years, many people believed depression was just feeling sad or out of sorts, and anxious people were considered hyper or sensitive, but both are medical issues with a biological basis. In this section, learn how depression and anxiety differ from everyday sadness and worry.
- Depression and anxiety are closely related disorders, and it’s not uncommon for a person who has one to have the other. As a result, many Web sites address both disorders.
For an overview of depression …
is a Web site based in the United Kingdom that offers brief overviews of depression, its symptoms and treatment. This page also offers advice for people who are depressed.
“Depression Basics” page provides information on depression in a question-and-answer format. Readers must register (it’s free) to see the page.
provides an overview of depression that includes the most common symptoms and a “Depression Self Test Calculator
.” Use the links on the left sidebar to find more information, such as prognosis, treatment and living with depression.
For an overview of anxiety …
“Anxiety” section provides an explanation of anxiety with several links to more information, such as its causes, symptoms and outlook, and when to seek medical care.
The American Academy of Family Physicians
has an “Anxiety & Panic” section that discusses what anxiety is, different types of anxiety, panic disorders, phobias and more. Look for links to related topics such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder at the end of the article.
For depression in seniors …
The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation
provides a “Depression Recovery Toolkit” that includes a series of fact sheets on topics such as “What is Late-Life Depression—The Facts,” “Monitoring Your Symptoms of Depression” and “Caregiving—The Role of Family Members and Friends.”
No one is immune to depression or anxiety, but certain groups, such as teens, the elderly and new mothers are at higher risk of depression. Depression and anxiety can also run in families, or occur because of a trauma. This section provides Web sites that explain the differences in signs, causes and risks of various higher-risk groups.
- Teenagers are often misunderstood and their moodiness is chalked up to teenage angst or hormones. Some Web sites are specific to children and teens, and can help parents and those who work with them by offering insight into dealing with teenagers who display the signs of depression or anxiety.
- Forgetfulness, fearfulness and sadness in the elderly can be overlooked because they may have other medical issues or their behavior is attributed to aging. Web sites geared toward senior health can help you learn what to watch out for.
- Post-partum depression can develop into something very severe and devastating if it’s not detected and treated. It’s more than the baby blues—it’s a true, treatable illness. There are many sites available on the Web that can help women and their families learn how to cope with post-partum depression.
For teens and children …
provides a good overview of depression in child-friendly language. There’s information on how and when to seek help, and the site discusses the risk of suicide.
Psychology Information Online's
“Teen Depression” page is geared toward teens, and addresses depression risks, signs and symptoms, and myths about depression.
For parents and teachers …
page on teen depression gives information on how the signs and symptoms of depression may appear differently in teens than they do in adults. There are examples of warning signs, what to do if you think your teen is depressed, tips on how to talk to depressed teens and a discussion about suicide. Scroll to the bottom to find links to interesting articles separately addressing depression in boys and girls from Psychology Today.
has a “Teen Depression” center that offers guidance on how to recognize teen depression, including advice for parents and information on teen suicide and binge eating.
For post-partum depression …
The National Women’s Health Information Center
is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The site provides information about depression, the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression, and what can happen if depression isn't treated.
pages on postpartum depression provide a good overview of postpartum depression, including the signs and symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications and more.
For depression and anxiety in the elderly …
page on depression in older adults and the elderly provides insight into how and why the elderly may be affected by depression. These include issues like social isolation, medications or illnesses. Learn why it's important to diagnose depression in the elderly and why it can be difficult to diagnose and treat.
The American Academy of Family Physicians
has an article on how depression in the elderly doesn't always manifest as sadness. It includes a checklist for assessing feelings and actions, and how they might relate to depression.
If you’re having trouble managing your emotions but aren’t sure if it’s temporary or severe, taking the time to evaluate how you feel can help put things into perspective. And while the idea of looking for help may be daunting, the Web can provide some guidance. This section provides questionnaires for self-evaluation and sites that discuss how to find and choose professional help.
- Questionnaires on the Web can help you evaluate yourself or someone you know, but don’t forget that their results are meant to provide guidelines for speaking with your doctor, not a diagnosis.
For depression screening tests …
, sponsored by the National Mental Health Association, offers a screening test that scales your results according to the number of positive responses.
For anxiety screening tests …
offers a quiz to evaluate your level of anxiety. Sign up as a member to save your results; that way, you can compare them later if you think you’re feeling better or worse. The test is based on information in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
,” the standard book for mental healthcare professionals in North America.
There are many types of depression and anxiety, so there isn’t one treatment that will help everyone. Some therapists specialize in certain types of therapy, while others use combinations of therapies. This section provides sites that can explain the different types of treatments available for depression and anxiety disorders.
- The Web is a good place to sort out what type of treatment you’re looking for. If you’ve tried one type of therapy and it didn’t work for you, you can focus on sites that cover other treatments. Always discuss any new treatments with your doctor or therapist before starting them.
For therapy …
has an overview of the different types of therapy that can be used to treat anxiety or depression. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, psychoanalysis and more.
The American Academy of Family Physicians
describes electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is sometimes used for people with severe depression. Learn how the procedure is performed and how it works to improve depression.
For medications and children …
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America
has a question-and-answer page for parents about anxiety medications and children. Questions addressed include “How can I tell if the medication is working?” and “Are SSRIs safe for my child?”
For clinical trials …
, a clearinghouse operated by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, provides a list of research clinical trials currently underway to research depression. Other trials are researching anxiety
and its treatments. To learn more about clinical trials, speak to your doctor, and read the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's guide
Finding a counselor or therapist isn’t always easy and may call for some detective work. Not all counselors or therapists are a good fit for every client. In order to get good personal mental health help, it’s important that you trust your counselor. By using the Web, you can learn about methods of treatment, and where to find doctors that adhere to various schools of thought.
- If you don’t click with a counselor or therapist, don’t be shy about looking for someone else. Talk to your primary physician about referrals.
- One option for finding a therapist is to consult your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). According to the Employee Assistance Society of North America, an EAP is designed to help employees cope with a range of problems, including substance abuse, domestic trouble or personal issues. These programs are confidential and often operated outside the company to ensure employee privacy. Many companies post contact information in public areas, or in employee handbooks.
To learn about the different types of therapists …
section on mental health provides a good overview of the different mental health practitioners and what they are qualified to do. At the end, you’ll find a glossary that lists the different types of mental health professionals and defines each type of degree.
To find a therapist …
“Find a Therapist” page allows you to search by city, zip code, state (or Canadian province) to find a therapist in your area.
, a Web site of the American Psychiatric Association, has a psychiatrist phone referral service. Read about the guidelines here.
The American Psychological Association
has a psychologist referral service that’s searchable by zip code, city and state, or Canadian province. The site also offers a phone referral service.
For seniors …
The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation's
“Find a Geriatric Psychiatrist” page helps you find a psychiatrist with a focus on treating the mental disorders that may occur in seniors. Simply type in your city, state or zip code to get a list of geriatric psychiatrists.
In this section, you’ll find some Web sites that provide 24-hour a day, 7-days a week telephone and/or online support for people who are suicidal or in an extreme crisis situation. If you or someone you know needs help, you can easily find information and emergency aide at one of the sites listed below.
- Don’t be ashamed for feeling the way you do. People who work at crisis centers are there to help you, not judge you. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
- Usually, there are warning signs that a person has suicidal tendencies. It’s always better to get someone help before he’s in an actual crisis situation. If you suspect someone you know is suicidal, there are sites that have information about suicide, statistics and advice for talking to people who are at risk.
For a hotline in the United States …
, the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression, offers toll-free numbers to call if you’re in the United States and you or someone you know is contemplating suicide.
For hotlines in other countries …
in the United Kingdom provides several phone numbers and Web sites for people in need. It also has a section on how to help someone who is suicidal.
The Centre for Suicide Prevention
provides several crisis line phone numbers across Canada, as well as some 24-hour online crisis centers. Click on the territory for more information.
For seniors …
The National Institute of Mental Health's
page on “Older Adults: Depression and Suicide Facts” reviews not only the issues and problems with depression, but provides the number for a toll-free, 24-hour line to call for help.
It’s easy to feel alone when you’re battling a mental illness like depression or anxiety. There are times when you just need to connect with someone who has been there and understands what you need, be it a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen or even a reality check. This section provides sites that have online support groups and newsletters you can have delivered to your e-mail box.
- When looking for sites that provide support, be sure that there are no hidden agendas or promises for getting well quickly if you buy their products or send money.
- Moderated support groups on the Web are groups that are supervised, usually by someone who either has gone through the same issues as the posters, or someone who has worked in the field. Check the board’s “About Us” section or click on the moderator to learn more.
- Be wary of people touting remedies or medications in online forums. Remember that what works for one person may not be the best for another. If you’re interested in a specific treatment or medication, discuss it with your mental health practitioner.
For anxiety and depression forums …
For postpartum support forums …
Postpartum Support International
offers an open forum every few weeks. Using a toll-free number, the first 15 callers can ask experts questions about the topic.
Postpartum forum allows women who are experiencing postpartum depression to chat with others who have gone or are going through the same thing. Create your own "thread" or conversation, or participate in one that has already been started.
Research is ongoing to try to find ways to manage these two groups of mental illness. This section provides some Web sites where you can find information on the latest research.
- Although scholarly journals are geared toward health care professionals, visiting their Web sites can be interesting as you may find information that hasn’t been talked about yet.
For journal articles …
is a repository of biomedical and life sciences journal articles. Type “anxiety” or “depression” into the search box near the top of the page to read articles or abstracts. Once you’ve searched a topic, use a tab under the display options to read articles that are free to access. A box on the homepage of the site invites you to create customized updates
that are e-mailed to you.
The American Journal of Psychiatry
publishes monthly. Although you must be a subscriber to access full articles, anyone can read the abstracts and access to full text articles can be purchased individually.
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