Maybe you’re facing a pile of work at your job, or you’re stressed because your bills are mounting even as your ability to pay them diminishes. Many situations in life can cause us stress, from family or health difficulties to the stress of loneliness or isolation. And sometimes that stress sticks around and escalates into an anxiety or depression that doesn’t want to leave.
While you might be tempted to give in and let it have its way, we’re not going to let that happen!
We’re here to help, with the what’s-what about antidepressants and anxiety medications, and advice on the best stress relief supplements. You’ve got plenty of ways to get to a better place.
Which Is Better: Medications or Supplements?
You may wonder which is better for you: medications or supplements. Both have their pluses and minuses. The answer is that it depends on multiple factors, including your:
- Level of stress. Do you see it as circumstantially related and likely to decrease at some point? Or has it escalated into anxiety and influenced your ability to function? What other things are you doing to relieve stress?
- Medical history and other medications you might be taking. Some antidepressants used to treat anxiety may interact with other kinds of drugs, for example.
- Tolerance for potential drug side effects. Both medications and supplements can come with side effects. On the other hand, particular ones might prove ineffective for you.
- Preferences for natural or prescribed solutions. We respect whichever route you decide to take, and can provide seasoned advice on the best stress relief supplements or medications. Of course, your healthcare provider is the best one to go to for the latest research and recommendations on medications. An integrated medicine or functional medicine doctor can also give you expert information on supplements.
Options for Stress Relief Medications
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. In fact, more than 21 million people suffered from it in 2020. You’re not alone! Luckily, and perhaps because it is so common, we know a lot about it and many treatment options exist. Among those treatment methods are antidepressants.
Antidepressants are medications that help to relieve symptoms like low mood, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, or poor sleep. There are actually at least seven different types of antidepressants, classified by how they work in the brain:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and tetracyclic antidepressants (TeCAs)
- Miscellaneous antidepressants
Choosing an Antidepressant
Choosing which antidepressant will work for you is a process rather than a one-time decision. It involves:
- Finding a healthcare provider who will take the time to listen and who knows the right questions to ask
- Giving that provider accurate information about
- Your particular symptoms
- Your tolerance for side effects. “Side effects of antidepressants vary,” says the Mayo Clinic, “from one medication to another and from person to person. Discuss possible major side effects with your doctor or pharmacist.”
- Whether a particular medication worked for a first-degree blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, or for you in the past. This may indicate how well it will work for you now.
- Other medications you’re taking
- Whether you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. Some antidepressants can safely be taken during pregnancy, but the use of others is discouraged during pregnancy.
- Other health conditions you might have
- Your health insurance coverage
- Exercising patience, since it usually takes any antidepressant at least a couple of weeks before any effect is noticed. Then it’s a matter of determining how well it works, whether any side effects show up, and how bothersome they are. Finding the right antidepressant and the right dose of it may take a few months.
As mentioned above, many antidepressants double as anti-anxiety treatments as well. However, there are some medicines designed specifically for anxiety. Benzodiazepines, for instance, are a kind of anti-anxiety medication that enhances GABA, a neurotransmitter that antidepressants block or increase. GABA works directly with your body’s central nervous system. So, a benzodiazepine like Xanax or Valium will calm you down quicker than an antidepressant would. But it also leaves your system quicker and has a higher possibility for addiction if taken for too long, according to Mental Health America.
Anxiety may also be treated with antihistamines and other sedatives that improve sleep. Choosing between an antidepressant, anti-anxiety medication, or sedative is, again, a decision best made with your trusted healthcare provider.
Best Stress Relief Supplements
You can do things on your own, either in addition to medications or instead of them, to relieve stress. Exercise, for one thing, has been shown to have an immediate effect on stress. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness, journaling, therapy, and supplements can also help a lot, especially when combined. You also have many options just within the world of natural supplements that can help to ease your body’s response to stress.
The stress relief supplements we recommend fall into four categories, all of which play a role in supporting your body’s healthy response to everyday stressors:
Your adrenal glands produce the stress hormone cortisol. Supporting this gland means strengthening your body’s response to stress triggers. The supplements we recommend for adrenal support are Neuroscience AdreCor with SAMe or Ortho Molecular’s Adapten-all. They contain vitamins, adaptogens (plants that help your body respond to stress and fatigue), and herbs that maintain healthy adrenal function.
With mood support supplements, you’ve really got two choices. It means taking either botanicals like peppermint or supporting hormones such as DHEA to balance out your body’s production of cortisol.
Good sleep support
Restful, sufficient sleep is the foundation of a healthy response to stress. When we’re tired, we’re more easily stressed out, right? But often, when we’re stressed, we have a harder time getting to sleep or staying asleep. It’s a catch-22! Break the cycle of sleeplessness and stress with products like Neuro Science’s Calm PRT or Ortho Molecular’s CopaCalm. They leverage plant extracts and various amino acids to calm the mind and relax the body in preparation for sleep.
Sometimes you’ve got to go right to the source—the brain—and support it so it can get all the other parts of you to fall in line. Regulating anxiety and stress can mean getting the right neurotransmitter “messengers” to play around in your brain a little longer. Or it can mean telling others to be quiet. Support your brain’s healthy production of serotonin, GABA, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine with products like Ortho Molecular’s Cerenity.
The Short of It
Congratulations! You’ve learned about the best medications and supplements for relieving stress, anxiety, and depression. Take the next step now and tell your problems who’s boss by buying those products that’ll put you on the best track to success.