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Co-Occurring Disorders: Connection between Depression and Substance Abuse

January 9, 2013 Addiction Treatment

Co-Occurring DisordersDepression is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders, and it affects millions of Americans every year. The mental health field has made some amazing strides when it comes to diagnosing and treating depression, yet many people still do not get the help they need for this debilitating disease. Millions of Americans continue to live with this disorder which can lead to other health issues and/or co-occurring disorders with substance abuse.

The cause of depression has not been completely identified, but researchers have found that those suffering with depression experience chemical imbalances in the brain, which can be caused by hormone changes, stress, and negative events in life. Depression causes a lack of energy and motivation, changes in sleep pattern, weight changes, and trouble concentrating. Someone with depression may have a difficult time socializing and keeping commitments, and even getting out of bed in the morning may be an impossible task.

Dual Diagnosis or Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual Diagnosis refers to a co-occurring mental health disorder and substance addiction. These two conditions often go hand in hand, as individuals with depression try to self-medicate their pain away with drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, someone who suffers from depression and then drinks or does drugs in order to feel better will usually end up with more severe depression symptoms. Substance abuse is never a good way to help depression, and most people who self-medicate with drugs and alcohol develop an addiction as well as a mental health disorder.

Treatment for Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Patients that have been diagnosed with both depression and substance addiction need specialized care to help them recover, because both conditions need to be addressed at the same time. Doctors and therapists now know that it is ineffective to treat one illness at a time because of how closely they are linked in each patient. Patients today receive treatment and therapy for their addiction at the same time they are treated by a psychologist with medication or counseling for their depression.

There is hope for individuals suffering with co-occurring disorders. Both mental illness and addiction are so encompassing and controlling that professional help is often necessary for recovery, but when an individual does finally seek help, they can experience happiness and a healthy life again.

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