Coping with Depression and Addiction – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around one in ten Americans experience depression. People with depression and other mental illnesses are at a higher risk for substance abuse, and these two disorders frequently co-exist.
The U.S. Surgeon General reported in 2016 that nearly 21 million Americans suffered from a substance use disorder, which can include the abuse of alcohol, prescription opioids, or illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
An estimated one in four adult Americans with a mental health disorder is also reported to abuse substances, and depression is believed to be the most common condition associated with behavior. Indeed, the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reported that about one-third of adults who struggle with alcohol or drug abuse also experience depression.
Moreover, substance abuse is especially prevalent among those who are suffering from a depressive disorder. Depression can compel people to use substances as a means to cope and self-medicate. In turn, substance abuse tends to foster and intensify symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders.
What Is a Dual Diagnosis?
When an individual is diagnosed with both depression and addiction, this is referred to as dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders can consist of any combination of mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder and the abuse of drugs or alcohol.
Suffering from depression increases a person’s risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. When a person abuses intoxicating substances, the risk of harm to oneself and others increases exponentially. Moreover, depression and addiction are not purely two separate entities—their symptoms overlap and often exacerbate each other.
How Is Depression Diagnosed?
Being sad on occasion is not the same as clinical depression, which is a chronic condition that can dramatically fluctuate over time. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, clinical depression lasts for two weeks or longer and interferes with one’s ability to sustain healthy relationships and function both socially and professionally.
People who suffer from depression may experience the following symptoms daily:
- Low self-worth
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Loss of energy
- Bouts of crying
- Ache and pains
- Feelings of guilt
- Impaired concentration
- Suicidal ideations
- Self-harming behavior
Furthermore, many people with depression lose interest in hobbies or activities they once deemed enjoyable. Although depression commonly manifests through feelings of sadness and fatigue, some people also experience anger and hostility. In any case, depression is not merely the occasional case of the “blues” and is significantly different from a person’s normal emotional and mental state.
Clinical depression may cause daily life tasks to seem unbearable, and the person believes this mood is permanent and unchangeable. These feelings become a gateway to addiction, as the person may attempt to relieve the pain and hopelessness that has essentially hijacked his or her life.
Chronic depression often leads to addiction because those who suffer may turn to substance abuse as an attempt to escape their negative emotional states.
Key signs of addiction include the following:
Tolerance – The body becomes accustomed to the effects of the substance over time and diminishes response. This condition results in the person needing increasing amounts of the substance to achieve the desired effect.
Dependence – The body becomes used to the substance’s presence, and eventually becomes unable to function normally in its absence.
Withdrawal symptoms – Unpleasant and often painful symptoms arise when a person who has a chemical dependence on a substance discontinues use. These effects vary in intensity and duration based on factors such as the type of drug used, the amount, and the duration of abuse.
Feelings of remorse or guilt – Feeling worse after using a substance rather than better, acknowledging that one is engaging in unhealthy and destructive behavior.
Relapse – Drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms upon cessation lead to a return to substance abuse.
Treating Both Depression and Addiction
Through participation in a comprehensive treatment program, people can heal themselves and regain control of their lives by pulling themselves out of the depths of depression and addiction. When people who experience depression and addiction try to abstain from substances, sometimes the depression can get worse. When the underlying emotional issues that propel one’s addiction are not addressed, the likelihood of relapse increases significantly.
A dual diagnosis can be far more difficult to treat than either condition alone because each disorder provokes the other. A traditional, one-dimensional program is usually not sufficient to address the problems of someone with an addiction and a co-existing mental health disorder. Therefore, only comprehensive programs that can address the needs of people with a dual diagnosis are qualified to provide treatment.
Harmony Treatment and Wellness employs highly-trained staff who specialize in addiction who offer treatment, support, and encouragement, critical tools needed to win the fight against addiction and depression. Through psychotherapy, counseling, and peer support, you can regain your sanity and enjoy the happy, fulfilling life you deserve!