Many addicts struggling with addiction also have one or more co-occurring mental disorders. Clinical depression is one of the common mental disorders that addicts suffer from. Although chronic depression is a separate illness, it does affect addiction and vice versa. Many addicts will use drugs or alcohol to blur the feeling of depression and give them temporary relief. In reality, substance abuse actually contributes to and causes an acceleration of chronic depression. It also weakens the physical body and suppresses the immune system. This causes the body to become vulnerable to a host of other chronic health problems. Drug treatment for addiction and depression is available through comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment programs.
Clinical depression, or endogenous depression, is a chronic illness that may be found in family members; linking them through a genetic predisposition. There are serious high-risk factors in someone struggling with the disorder that may be expressed by self-harm or suicidal thoughts or acts. When clinical depression is combined with alcohol or drug abuse, it will exacerbate the problem. While the addict may temporarily experience feelings of calm and relief, they will be doing more harm to their body and mind in the long run. Certain drugs and alcohol are depressants that have a direct affect on the brain and body. Depressants, when abused, act as a trigger for depression, lethargy, hopelessness, sadness and despair. Some depressant drugs are: tranquilizers, anti-psychotic medications, Xanax, Librium, Benzodiazepines, Klonopin, Halcion, barbiturates, opioids, Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta. These drugs reduce the functioning of the central nervous system and other areas of the body. They also affect the neurotransmission between brain cells, inhibiting brain activity.
Identifying Clinical Depression
People with clinical depression may experience five or more of these symptoms daily:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt
- A sense of worthlessness
- A loss of energy
- Aches and pains
- A loss of appetite or weight
- Suicidal thoughts or acts
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Difficulty concentrating
- A loss of interest in activities and hobbies
Millions of people are affected by clinical depression, which keeps them from enjoying a normal, healthy life. About 10% of Americans suffer from the disorder according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDP). People most at risk for developing the disorder are middle-aged adults from the ages of 45 to 64. Females are more susceptible than men, as are Hispanics and African Americans. It also affects people who are unable to work, or have difficulty holding down a job. Other people at risk are those without public health benefits or private health insurance.
Drug Treatment for Addiction and Depression
Depression can frequently be manifested with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, low energy, irritability, anger and hostility. Coping with these strong emotions on a daily basis can become overwhelming. Drinking alcohol or using drugs may seem like the only way to alleviate these feelings of emotional pain. People with clinical depression will always be depressed unless they get professional help. If they continue down the path of substance abuse they will become addicted to those substances. Self-medicating with these substances is not the proper way to treat the problem; it only adds more problems.
Because of their complexity, treatment for addiction and depression must be integrated. Medical professionals who treat patients with these problems should be experienced and knowledgeable in both addiction recovery and psychiatric problems. The treatment program should incorporate psychological counseling, education, peer support and relapse prevention for both diseases. The patient should be taught the facts about depression and that they can recover from it. The patient should also learn how and why they must make major life changes, and also be equipped with the proper tools to handle negative thoughts and triggers.
Learning to identify and change addictive behavior patterns should also be included in treatment. Medication may also play a role in treatment and recovery. Lastly, addicts who suffer from depression should be encouraged to continue with treatment. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and they will see it as they progress.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.