01 Apr Depression and Addiction
Do you go through periods of highs and lows? Does life feel like it gets you down sometimes? It’s normal to feel a full range of emotions, from sadness to happiness, throughout your days, weeks and months. But if you feel down more than you feel up, have feelings of hopelessness, are disinterested in the things that once brought you fulfillment or have trouble finding the motivation to live your life, you might be suffering from depression. Depression and addiction go hand in hand. One-third of adults with alcohol or substance abuse disorder also have a depressive disorder.
If you’re struggling with depression, you might turn to alcohol or other substances as a way to cope. Alcohol and various drugs may relax you and make you forget about your worries. However, many drugs act as depressants. They slow down your central nervous system and exacerbate your mental health problems.
Even stimulants interfere with your body’s natural way of functioning. When you’re not using them, you may feel more depressed than you did before you started. Any type of substance abuse can put you at a greater risk of developing a depressive disorder.
If you use drugs to numb or manage strong emotions, you might continue to reach for more of the substance just to feel normal. This can cause you to develop a substance abuse or alcohol use disorder.
Depression can also be the result of an addiction. If addiction has caused trouble with your career, interpersonal relationships, finances or health, you may feel as though you’ve dug yourself into a hole that you can’t get out of. That feeling of powerlessness can spiral you into a depression.
The battle with depression and addiction is difficult to win without help. The interplay of the two mental health issues draws you into a cycle. Depression feeds the addiction, and the addiction feeds the depression.
What Is a Dual Diagnosis?
A dual diagnosis occurs when someone has more than one mental health disorder, such as depression and addiction.
It’s essential to treat both aspects of the diagnosis at once. If you undergo treatment for the substance abuse disorder without addressing the other mental health issues, you are only tackling part of the issue.
Someone who goes into recovery for substance abuse without getting help for their depression may not have enough resources and support to stick with recovery. Without education and skills to cope with the symptoms of all of their mental health disorders, it’s likely that they will continue to use alcohol or other substances.
At the same time, someone who receives treatment for depression without addressing the addiction can have trouble establishing their psychological wellbeing. Depression is not just a mindset issue. It involves important hormones and neurotransmitters that play into the body’s pleasure and reward centers. When these chemicals are out of balance, it can be difficult to think clearly or manage your daily life.
But a dual diagnosis isn’t always easy to come to. The symptoms of depression mimic the signs of addiction and vice versa. Some people may even be able to hide an addiction because it looks like another mental health disorder.
Plus, the symptoms of one disorder can make the symptoms of the other problem worse. For example, binging on alcohol can leave you feeling lethargic, physically ill and more depressed. As you go through recovery and enter into sobriety, you may have intense emotions that intensify the depression.
Alcohol and substance abuse disorders don’t just go away when you address your other mental health issues. Likewise, depression doesn’t disappear when you stop using alcohol and other substances. It’s essential to uncover the root of both issues so that you can establish a solid route to recovery.
Depression and Addiction Affect Your Physical Health
We’ve discussed the psychological aspects of depression and addiction. But these disorders can affect your physical health too.
Depression affects several systems throughout your body. Because it alters the levels of some brain chemicals, it affects your sleep, eating habits and experience of pain. For example, the irregular functioning of neurotransmitters such as serotonin can make you more sensitive to physical discomfort.
If you can’t move around easily, you may get less exercise, which further impairs the optimal functioning of your brain chemicals. Increased pain can also lead to sleeping problems and deeper depression.
Because people with depression often have elevated levels of stress hormones, they are more susceptible to other illnesses, such as the cold and flu. Chronic stress can cause inflammation, which plays a role in the development of many diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.
Finally, depression weakens your immune system. Someone with this mental health disorder may have a hard time fighting off viruses and infections.
Adding substance abuse to the mix further impairs your physical health. The health consequences of addiction vary depending on the user, the type of drug that’s used and the frequency at which it is taken.
Some drugs cause serious short-term effects, such as an increased risk of stroke or heart attack. The long-term effects of substance abuse and addiction may include:
• Heart disease
• Lung disease
• Liver disease
• Insomnia and fatigue
Recovery for Dual Diagnosis
If you’re trapped in a vicious cycle of depression and addiction, you can have hope again. It’s vital to get treatment and support from someone who understands all of the aspects of your mental health disorders.
A one-dimensional rehabilitation program is not enough to treat patients with a dual diagnosis. Clients shouldn’t have to choose between treating their mental health disorder and their addiction.
The best type of treatment for someone who wants to get into recovery is integrated and involves detox, therapy and aftercare. Peer support and relapse prevention are also important.
Discovering the proper approach to dual diagnosis treatment for addiction can take time and patience. At New Method Wellness, we offer a wide range of therapy and treatment options so that you can explore what works best for your recovery.
Some of the most important aspects of a dual diagnosis addiction recovery program include:
• Education about addiction, substance abuse and depression
• Identifying and altering addiction patterns and behaviors
• Practical coping methods for managing intrusive or detrimental thoughts and limiting beliefs
• Teaching life and interpersonal skills
• Exploring what makes you feel fulfilled
• Learning how to navigate challenges
We offer this through a system of holistic, integrated therapies that address the whole person and help you get and stay on the path to recovery. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you get the support that you need.