When Depression and Addiction are Co-Occurring

Depression and addiction are very common co-occurring disorders. Not only can feelings of depression occur as the result of substance use, but drinking or drug use can also exacerbate existing symptoms of depression making a person feel even worse. It can become a vicious cycle trying to manage both depression and addiction because they feed off of one another; for instance, the more a person drinks, the worse they feel, and the worse they feel, the more they drink.

Finding a treatment program that addresses both addiction and mental illness is an important element of recovery. Both disorders affect the brain and require comprehensive care to support healing. However, change is possible. One does not have to let depression and addiction control their life. With the right approach to treatment including counseling, therapy, medication management, exercise, holistic therapies, recreational activities, support groups and more, clients can learn to cope with co-occurring disorders more effectively and build a healthier lifestyle. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression and addiction can allow people to seek the help they need at a treatment center such as 1st Step Behavioral Health. Then they can begin their journey to recovery and take steps to reduce risk of relapse.

What are Common Signs of Depression?

Life has many ups and downs, and everyone feels sad or helpless from time to time. Yet it often passes rather quickly and life goes on as normal. In those with depression, these feelings do not subside and they interfere with day-to-day activities. The person cannot shake how they feel and it detracts from their quality of life. Some common signs of depression to be aware of are:

  • Poor concentration
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Other Common Signs of Depression

  • Perseverating on loss, failures, or guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities

The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person, but they last for a prolonged period of time. Many people experience depression off and on throughout their lives, though some people only go through one major episode. Proper treatment can help to reduce the severity and duration of depression and enhance quality of life.

What are Common Signs of Addiction?

Signs of addiction can be hard to recognize when a person has become skilled at masking their substance use. However, there are often still noticeable signs that may indicate they have a problem. Recognizing the warning signs can allow for early intervention before things become more serious and escalate to potential overdose or long-term damage. Common signs of addiction may include:

  • Increased secrecy about whereabouts
  • Neglecting daily responsibilities or commitments
  • Inability to control the amount of substance use
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Increased aggression, agitation, or anxiety
  • Growing tolerance to substance use
  • Continued use despite negative consequences

Even if a person wants to stop using, they may not be able to on their own. Addiction changes the way the brain functions, so they may not be able to quit without professional help. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms can also make it more challenging. It is important not to ignore or downplay the signs of addiction; instead, seek help from a professional treatment center like 1st Step Behavioral Health.

[banner_image_section title=”Learn More About How to Get Help for Addiction”]1st Step Behavioral Health will work with you to address both substance abuse and mental health disorders and the impact they have on your recovery.[/banner_image_section]

What is the Connection Between Depression and Addiction?

Depression and addiction can be a vicious cycle as these two conditions feed off of one another. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) estimates that around 20 percent of Americans with anxiety or depression also have a substance use disorder and vice versa. Both genetics and environment may come into play when it comes to risk. Drugs and alcohol often affect the same areas of the brain as depression does. Alcohol suppresses the central nervous system which can trigger symptoms of depression. However, many people turn to alcohol and other drugs to battle these same feelings. It is not always clear which condition developed first.

Although drugs and alcohol may temporarily make someone feel better and forget about their problems, it does nothing to resolve these underlying issues and can end up making them worse. Substance use can exacerbate the symptoms of depression leading to increased use of these substances and the cycle goes on and on. Since the two are so closely related, it is essential that depression and addiction are treated simultaneously to prevent one from causing relapse of the other. It is possible to achieve long-term recovery and overcome addiction and depression while maintaining a high quality of life.

Understanding the Need for Treatment in a Dual Diagnosis Case

It is imperative that mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders be treated together at the same time. If only one is addressed and the other ignored, it can greatly increase risk for relapse. When someone stops using drugs or drinking alcohol, it can be distressing and affect their mental health. At the same time, if the focus is on getting mental health stabilized but substance use is not addressed; continued use can interfere with mental health.

A dual diagnosis case requires comprehensive treatment that takes all of the person’s needs into consideration. It looks at how their mental illness and addiction affect one another and how to best address these issues to support recovery. Conditions such as depression and anxiety can often act as triggers for relapse, so it is important that the individual recognizes this and knows how to manage these symptoms to promote better health. Effective treatment can equip people with the skills and strategies they need to cope with both mental health disorders and addiction while helping them to build a strong support system. Should they face challenges in the future, they will be more prepared to deal with them and know where to turn for help.

Learn More About how to get Help for Co-Occurring Disorders

You or a loved one does not have to struggle with a dual diagnosis on your own. 1st Step Behavioral Health can provide you with the guidance and support necessary for recovery from co-occurring disorders and empower you to turn your life around. Contact us today!