New Options For Anxiety and Depression

An estimated 10 to 20 percent of the Central New York population will experience anxiety or depression at some point, prompting SUNY Upstate to open a comprehensive Anxiety and Depressive Disorders Clinic Program.

While the prognosis is generally good for these disordersabout 30 to 70 percent of patients respond to medication, psychotherapy or bothit can be challenging to match the patient to the optimum treatment, according to Thomas Schwartz MD, Professor of Psychiatry.

The new clinic focuses on very specific mental illnesses including postpartum, treatment-resistant and treatmentrefractory depression, social anxiety, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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The new clinic maximizes the patient's time with a psychiatrist, by streamlining data collection. "The patient spends 30 to 60 minutes with us, instead of the usual 10 to 15 minutes allotted for the typical medication management visit,"; Schwartz explains. "This allows the psychiatrist to focus on building rapport with the patientsomething many clinics are eliminating, due to time- and cost-constraints."

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"We treat the biological, psychological and social causes of depression and anxiety," Schwartz explains. "In general, medications address symptoms, while psychotherapy may address symptoms or root causes. Often both forms of treatment are helpfulmedication to reduce the patient's anxiety or sadness, and talk therapy to explore issues or patterns that might be causing the symptoms."

In addition to clinical trials for certain medications, the clinic offers electroconvulsive or "shock therapy." "It's still the most effective initial treatment for refractory depression, according to clinical and research literature,"; Schwartz reports.

Upstate is also the only local site offering vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) for depression. "We were part of the research study that evaluated this option, which is now FDA-approved," Schwartz notes. "This is another option for patients who have failed to improve after various medications and psychotherapy."