Addiction and Depression: Symptoms and Treatments
Depression and alcohol or drug addiction seem to go hand-in-hand.
The statistics are staggering. About 15 million people in the United States experience clinical depression in any year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Many also struggle with drug or alcohol dependency. This combination can create a deadly scenario in many families.
Individuals Who Are Depressed Are Likely to Use Drugs and Alcohol
Which comes first, the drugs and alcohol or depression? This can be hard to say. It is not uncommon for people who are depressed to turn to drugs or alcohol to treat their symptoms. To cope with depression, some may turn to alcohol to numb the way they feel. Some drugs act as a type of medication, creating a calming effect to give individuals some relief from the symptoms of depression.
When a person turns to drugs or alcohol like this, they may get a short-term level of relief from their depression symptoms. Yet, once that wears off, the impact is worse. Substance abuse negatively impacts every facet of life, making day-to-day life challenging. Many continue to use drugs or alcohol to fuel that limited relief. Depression worsens. Substance abuse becomes an addiction.
The opposite is true as well. Depression can occur as people battle alcoholism or drug addiction. These individuals may have some level of susceptibility to mental health challenges and using a substance like this can lead to depression. The National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that it is more common for individuals to develop depression as a result of alcohol abuse.
Is Your Loved One Showing Signs of Depression or Substance Abuse?
Understanding what is happening is the first step. The second is to recognize the symptoms present so treatment can be obtained. It can be very difficult to pinpoint if an individual is battling depression or substance abuse. However, individuals facing any of the following symptoms should seek behavioral health treatment.
- Anxiety, unexplained fear and worry
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies, but a need to use drugs or alcohol
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Feelings of guilt
- Limited energy, significant fatigue
- Sleeping too little or being unable to relax before bed
- Weight gain or significant weight loss, eating more than normal or barely eating
- Complaints of routine pain when injuries or illness do not occur
- Sense of worthlessness
- Hopelessness or lack of ability to see positive events
Individuals who exhibit at least three to five of these signs may be diagnosed with depression. These are common in individuals who have alcoholism or substance abuse, no matter which occurred first.
A key differentiating factor is what happens in the normal course of the day. Individuals who are depressed or battling addiction are unable to focus on the tasks or responsibilities they have. Many start the day thinking about their anxiety or depression and end it using substances to ward off those feelings. Most of their day is consumed with the difficulty of accomplishing necessary tasks. At this stage, individuals require treatment.
Treating Both Substance Abuse and Depression
It is impossible to treat depression without dealing with the substance abuse occurring. The inverse is true as well. If an individual does not receive treatment for both conditions, it is unlikely to be effective. Often called dual diagnosis, individuals who are battling mental health disorders along with substance abuse generally go through several steps for treatment.
It is nearly impossible for an individual in this situation to simply stop using drugs or alcohol. Rather, they require medically-supervised detoxification. The process involves allowing the individual’s body to naturally remove the substances from it. During detox, individuals experience pain and withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, the process can be life-threatening, requiring medical supervision. Detox is never something individuals can do at home once they are addicted due to these risks.
#2: Inpatient Treatment
Many people battling this combination of disorders need inpatient treatment. Ultimately, a professional needs to diagnose their conditions and create a treatment plan. However, inpatient treatment provides a safe place for individuals to work through both depression and substance abuse. For loved ones, it’s important to note that both depression and substance abuse are life-threatening conditions.
#3: Outpatient Treatment
It’s impossible to effectively treat substance abuse or depression without ongoing therapy. An outpatient program can offer this as an individual works to rebuild his or her life outside of the treatment facility. Comprehensive services can support the process and aid in minimizing relapse while ensuring mental health needs are met.
Getting Your Loved One Help
At Victory Addiction Center, this type of help is available. It isn’t simply to recognize substance abuse and, even in some addiction recovery programs, depression is very difficult to spot. Yet, treatment can afford individuals a new opportunity for an addiction-free life.
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