Why Residential Treatment Is Best for Preventing Depression During Alcohol Recovery

Alcohol use disorder can trigger depression not only during use but also while a patient is in treatment and recovery. The two conditions are related in complex ways, but experiencing both is common. The best way to manage alcohol use disorder and to also manage or prevent depression is to get comprehensive, expert care in a residential treatment facility.

Depression is common in people struggling with alcohol use disorder. In fact, one study found that the prevalence of depression is as high as nearly 64 percent in people dependent on alcohol. Alcohol abuse can trigger or worsen depression, but it is also possible that people who feel depressed turn to alcohol as a type of self-medication.

These two mental health issues feed each other, and getting better requires addressing and treating both. The best way to do that is to spend sufficient time in residential treatment.

Alcohol Use Disorder Can Trigger Depression


If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcohol use disorder and seeking help with it, depression should be a concern. There are very high rates of mental illness co-occurring with substance use disorders. The most common co-occurring mental illness is any mood disorder, followed by depression.

The reasons that these two conditions so often co-occur are complex. It may not be possible to determine the exact causes of depression in any one person, but it is clear that each one can trigger the other. People with depression, for instance, are at a greater risk of using alcohol to try to manage symptoms, which in turn can lead to a substance use disorder.

However, it is also possible that developing an alcohol use disorder can be a trigger for depression. Depression itself is a complicated mental illness with no single cause, but substance use is an important risk factor. For instance, you may have a family history of depression. By drinking you may trigger symptoms and episodes for which you were already at a greater risk.

Even if you don’t think you have risk factors for depression, drinking too much has the potential to trigger these low feelings. Alcohol can work as both a stimulant and a depressant in the brain, so it may make you feel happy and energetic, but leave you sad and hopeless. And of course there are also all the negative consequences of drinking too much—relationship problems, difficulties at work, illness—that can also contribute to feelings of depression.

The Best Treatment Addresses All Mental Health Issues


Research supports the fact that the most effective treatment for any substance use disorder or mental illness addresses all of a patient’s needs. This means that when there are co-occurring conditions like alcohol use disorder and depression, treating them both together is the most effective way to see positive results.

Even in patients being treated for alcohol use disorder who have not previously been diagnosed for depression, it is important to be aware of it. There is such an increased risk of developing depression in this population, that the best treatment addresses it even before the patient or caregivers recognize signs of this mental illness. And this is best done in residential care.

The Importance of Choosing Residential Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder


There are many reasons why residential treatment is best for preventing depression during alcohol recovery. Outpatient care is limited, and inpatient treatment can offer the most and best resources for managing this complex co-occurrence. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol use disorder, with or without depression, consider residential care for these reasons:

  • Residential facilities are staffed by multidisciplinary professionals with different areas of expertise, including mental illness, mood disorders, and alcohol use disorder.
  • Patients in residential care can be screened and given a full diagnosis for all mental health issues.
  • Care in a residential facility begins with an individualized treatment plan that specifically targets the needs of each patient.
  • Residential care usually includes appropriate medical treatment.
  • In an inpatient setting patients have access to a number of different types of therapy, including alternative therapies.
  • A residential setting allows patients to focus on getting well in a safe environment and away from the responsibilities of home, work, and family.
  • Most residential programs provide support with transitions back to the home and aftercare services to help monitory sobriety and continue with outpatient counseling.
  • Family can be involved to the extent a patient wishes during residential treatment.
  • Residential care offers opportunities to get support from other patients.
  • In this safe setting with 24-hour care from professionals, patients can be monitored for signs of depression and then treated accordingly.

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Managing Withdrawal and Depression in Residential Treatment


Another very important consideration when choosing treatment for alcohol use disorder is the management of detox and withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome causes a number of serious symptoms that can lead to relapse but that can also trigger complications that significantly impact health and well-being. Among the many possible symptoms is depression.

Treatment in a residential facility that offers detox services can make this process safer. Detox is the first step in treatment and, by doing it in a safe, structured way, can be an important part of reducing the risk of developing depression. A good treatment facility will offer 24-hour supervision, medical care, counseling, and any alternative or holistic types of treatment that help the patient feel more comfortable.

There are so many reasons why residential treatment is best for preventing depression during alcohol recovery. If you need help with alcohol use, you have a lot of options. But if you have tried and failed to quit and if you struggle with feelings of depression, residential care is the safest and often most effective option for care. Here you will get the one-on-one attention you need, comprehensive treatment guided by experts, and the support from other people to help you learn how to live with alcohol without falling into depression.

Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting recovery.