Mood Disorders and Addiction
Everyone goes through emotional ups and downs from time to time, whether in response to specific stressors or natural mood variations. When you have a mood disorder, however, your moods move beyond the realm of healthy emotional states and create deep psychological distress. These disorders can significantly impair day-to-day function, contribute to interpersonal difficulties, and profoundly damage your self-esteem. In certain cases, they can even be life-threatening. When mood disorders are accompanied by drug addiction, both conditions become exponentially more complex and require dedicated dual diagnosis treatment.
Mood disorders are a group of psychiatric illnesses characterized by sustained states of emotional highs or lows that interfere with your ability to function in a normal manner. Depression and bipolar disorders are the most common forms of mood disorders and within each illness there is a broad range of experiences and a variety of presentations which may vary from person to person; while people within each diagnostic category share a number of similar traits, what depression or bipolar disorder looks like in one person can be drastically different in another.
Because mood disorders represent a heightening of “normal” emotional experiences, it is common for some to try to minimize the disorders or believe that someone with depression or bipolar disorder can just pull themselves together. But in fact, these conditions are serious mental health disorders that can produce a host of distressing symptoms that cannot be alleviated via willpower alone. Both depression and bipolar disorder can lead self-isolation, damaged interpersonal relationships, self-harm, and even suicidal ideation.
For most mood disorders, there is no singular cause, but a complex combination of biological and environmental factors. Although research reveals that depression and bipolar disorder often run in families, this is not always the case; you can spontaneously develop a mood disorder regardless of family history. Mood disorders may also be triggered by specific, often traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one, separation from a partner, a sexual assault, or any significant life change.
Symptoms of Mood Disorders
Mood disorders vary in kind and severity. While people with depression experience depression alone, people with bipolar I disorder may experience only mania or mania and depression, and people with bipolar II disorder experience both depression and hypomania. It is important to remember that not all symptoms are experienced by all people, and symptoms may change over time.
Symptoms of Depression:
- Enduring sadness
- Listlessness, low energy, and fatigue
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or helplessness
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Irritability and anger
- Physical aches and pains
Symptoms of Mania and Hypomania:
- Increased energy
- Increased sociability and confidence
- Intense feelings of happiness
- Rapid speech
- Reduced need for sleep
- Engaging in risky behavior, such as gambling, sex, or drugs
- Lack of concentration
- Irritability, anger, and rage
Men and women tend to experience certain symptoms differently. For example, research has found that men are more likely to have physical symptoms of depression such as aches and pains while women are more likely to have emotional symptoms such as crying all the time. In severe cases of depression and bipolar disorder, both men and women may experience psychosis.
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Mood Disorders and Addiction
People with mood disorders often feel an intense desire to escape the overwhelming pain they are feeling. Drugs of abuse can be tempting; depending on the drug used, you may experience artificial euphoria, numbness, sociability, etc. Some believe that people with mood disorders are particularly drawn to drugs because they compensate for lowered dopamine levels or suppressed serotonergic activity in the brain. People experiencing manic or hypomanic episodes, on the other hand, may not be trying to escape pain, but heighten the extremity of their joy. These conditions can also drastically reduce inhibitions and engender feelings of invincibility, opening up the possibility of engaging in behaviors you would ordinarily avoid, including excessive drug use.
Over time, however, temporary relief or mood augmentation give way for addiction, at which point you have lost control over your drug use altogether. Simultaneously, drugs themselves can aggravate your psychiatric symptoms, even if you are in treatment, severely complicating your healing process and potentially creating dangerous conditions. Simultaneously, certain psychotropic medications may have dangerous interactions with drugs of abuse, potentially creating serious harm.
Dual Diagnosis Mood Disorders and Addiction Treatment
Today, the medical community is better equipped than ever to treat mood disorders and help clients regain the emotional stability they need to live full, productive, and happy lives. When mood disorders are accompanied by drug addiction, however, you need more than what single-focus psychiatric treatment alone can offer you; you need specialized dual diagnosis treatment.
Residential dual diagnosis drug treatment and rehab combines the most effect therapies for both your mood disorder and your drug addiction to ensure that the full scope of your needs is addressed in a way that is meaningful and relevant to you. The most effective therapeutic modalities for mood disorders and addiction include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Experiential Therapy
- Holistic Therapies
- 12-step support groups
In addition to clinical therapies and psychosocial supports, there is also an array of modern pharmacological treatments available to alleviate the symptoms of depression and bipolar disorders. While these are not right for every client, they can produce extraordinary results for many and create the emotional stability you need to fully engage in the therapeutic process. A psychiatrist who specializes in addiction medicine can create an effective, well-tolerated medication plan for you that does not interfere with your sobriety.
The real strength of dual diagnosis treatment lies in its ability to guide you towards a greater understanding of the relationship between your mood disorder and your drug use. With the support of compassionate clinicians and peers, you are able to gain both the insight and the concrete skills you need to make meaningful emotional and behavioral changes that nurture your mind, body, and spirit. By uncovering your authentic self, overcoming internal obstacles to healing, and engaging in a journey of self-discovery, you can lay the foundation for long-term recovery and enhanced quality of life.