Bad days happen to everyone. From work bogging us down to relationships that suck the fun out of everything, we all go through “down times” in life. For most people, these feelings of sadness come and go organically and can be very simply fixed by doing things that make us feel happier – like hanging out with friends or treating ourselves to something special. But for the thousands of American’s that struggle with clinical depression paired with substance addiction, living like this is a daily reality of not-so-fun symptoms that are not easy to shake.
Connecting Substance Addiction to Depression
You might be thinking, I know what depression is but, what does it have to do with substance addiction? The answer is a lot. Let’s start at the beginning.
What is Depression?
In order to understand how depression relates to substance addiction, it helps to first understand what depression really is. Depression is a chemical imbalance that manifests itself through sadness that makes it difficult (and sometimes impossible) to deal with everyday tasks and responsibilities. It inhibits your abilities to work, maintain healthy relationships, and to function socially.
What is the Difference Between Sadness and Depression?
As we mentioned above, everyone experiences feelings of sadness. But how can you tell the difference between just feeling down once in awhile and clinical depression? There are symptoms of depression and if they are persistent for more than two weeks, it’s likely that you may be experiencing some form of depression.
Symptoms of Depression
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, those who struggle with clinical depression may experience any of the following symptoms for weeks at a time:
- Feeling hopeless
- Fluctuations in appetite (sometimes resulting in weight gain/loss)
- Sleeping too much/too little
- Aches and pains
- Loss of energy
- Feeling guilty
- Feeling worthless
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
It’s also important to note that if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of clinical depression, you need to be assessed by a medical professional. Don’t simply read through this or any other article you find online and assume that you have depression.
How Does Depression Relate to Substance Addiction?
Now that you have a better idea of what depression is, we can get into how it relates to substance addiction. If you suffer from alcohol or drug addiction this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will also be clinically depressed, and visa versa. However, approximately 10.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and substance addiction disorders, and that’s huge.
Gateway to Drug Abuse and Addiction
How does this happen? It is so often, unfortunately, that clinical depression can lead to drugs and alcohol abuse. When someone is depressed, they often seek ways to self-medicate, usually in the way of drugs or alcohol abuse. This substance abuse, if kept up consistently, can lead to a full on addiction to alcohol or drugs. You can’t stop using drugs or alcohol in fear of dealing with the symptoms of depression and vice versa. The substance addiction and depression both work together (or co-occur) and without the appropriate therapy for substance abuse, will continue to do so.
Warning Signs of Substance Addiction
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the following are signs of addiction:
- Loss of Control
- Neglecting Other Activities
- Risk Taking
- Relationship Issues
- Changing Appearance
- Family History
- Continued Use Despite Consequences
Finding Drug Addiction Treatment for a Co-Occurring Disorder
Treating a co-occurring disorder can be difficult which is why it is so important to seek integrated drug abuse treatment if you suffer from both depression and a substance use disorder. Without treating the depression that fuels your need for drugs or alcohol, it’s very likely that you will go back to your addictive patterns once you’ve completed a drug or alcohol addiction program that is not formulated to treat co-occurring disorders.
How To Treat Co-Occurring Disorders
The Discovery House treatment center is located in Southern California and our staff understands the complications of treating someone with a co-occurring disorder. Our facilities provide treatment for both dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders like depression and substance addiction. If you or someone you care for is struggling with a co-occurring disorder, reach out to the caring and knowledgeable addiction specialists at The Discovery House.