Depression and Addiction Treatment
Many individuals with alcoholism or drug addiction also suffer from co-occurring mental health disorders like depression. For individuals dealing with both addiction and depression, everyday activities as well as social and professional relationships can be disrupted. Depression may also be articulated through physical phenomena such as aches and pains, sleep disturbances, and loss of appetite, and for some these are the primary symptoms of the illness.
The causes of depression are numerous and complex. Experts believe that both biological and environmental factors play an important role in the development of the condition, and it is known to have hereditary underpinnings. Depression most commonly arises between the ages of 20 and 30, but it can strike at any time, and older people at critical life stages may be particularly vulnerable. While some can directly trace the roots of their depression to a specific event, such as trauma or a stressful life change, for others it arises without an identifiable trigger.
Symptoms of Depression
The symptoms of depression include a broad range of emotional, behavioral, and physical phenomena, and the way it is experienced by each person is highly individual. These symptoms include:
- Feelings of sadness, despair, and hopelessness
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, including sex
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and hypersomnia
- Anger and irritability
- Self-loathing, self-blame, and feelings of worthlessness
- Focus and memory difficulties
- Physical aches and pains, including headache, back pain, stomach pains, and muscle pain
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
While women tend to experience more emotional symptoms of depression, men often experience more physical symptoms that can make depression harder to detect.
Depression and Addiction
One of our most natural instincts as humans is to withdraw from pain. When that pain emanates from your own mind, it can be tempting to self-medicate with harmful substances in an attempt to escape your distress. As a result, people with depression are twice as likely as the general population to suffer from a substance use disorder. Although drugs can indeed provide temporary relief from emotional and physical distress, over time they can also create lasting disturbances in your brain chemistry that aggravate depressive symptoms and spark a cycle of use and suffering that can seem impossible to break out of. In other cases, substance use itself causes depression to emerge as your neuronal activity is thrown out of equilibrium by ongoing exposure to psychoactive substances.
While many people with depression self-medicate with alcohol or illicit drugs, addiction may also involve prescription drugs, particularly benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, or painkillers prescribed for depressive symptoms. These cases can be particularly distressing, as your attempt to find relief from your pain through legitimate means has now compounded your suffering and created a new source of anguish.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
When you are struggling with depression, it can be hard to see beyond your current suffering. But there is hope. Over the past few decades, depression treatment options have greatly expanded, and today there are more therapies and medications available than ever before to successfully alleviate depressive symptoms. When you are suffering from a co-occurring drug addiction, however, treating depression alone is not enough; rather, your depression and addiction must be treated simultaneously in order to create true, sustainable recovery from both disorders.
Dual diagnosis treatment offers comprehensive care that addresses both your addiction and your depression via targeted interventions that engage you in a process of profound transformation. Because both depression and addiction are deeply personal experiences that take unique forms for each individual, it is critical that your care is tailored to your needs and delivered in a way that speaks to your situation. The most effective dual diagnosis treatment takes a multidimensional approach that draws from a range of evidence-based therapies, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Experiential Therapy
- Holistic Therapies
- 12-step support groups
There is also a multitude of pharmacological therapies that have been found to be highly effective for treating depression and, in some cases, addiction. A psychiatrist who specializes in dual diagnosis treatment can create a safe, well-tolerated medication plan tailored to your symptoms.
Dual diagnosis treatment that addresses the full scope of your needs gives you the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the place both addiction and depression have in your life, and provides you with the tools you need to regain emotional and behavioral stability. With the support of compassionate clinicians and peers who understand what you are going through, you can develop both the insight and the concrete skills to make positive, lasting changes that nurture your mind, body, and spirit.
Because depression and addiction don’t happen in isolation, it is often critical to involve your loved ones in the recovery process. Truly comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment programs will provide opportunities for your family to participate in your healing through dedicated family programmingdesigned to nourish and mend your relationships. There, you can learn to disrupt any damaging relationship dynamics and create a foundation of love, understanding, and respect that will carry you through your recovery process both while in treatment and beyond.
If you would like more information about drug addiction and depression, or have any questions about dual diagnosis treatment, we encourage you to contact us at any time. We are always available to offer support and guidance to help you find the help you need to move beyond suffering and create the life you truly want.