What Everyone Should Know About Depression and Addiction
Understanding this often-virulent combination
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 10 Americans suffers from depression at any given time. The very same percentage applies to persons with a substance addiction. But in all too many cases, both conditions are present at the same time.
While there are no easy answers or cookie-cutter solutions to depression and/or addiction, there are some key insights to be gleaned from people who have struggled with these problems and overcome them. Whether you suffer from depression and/or addiction yourself or care about someone who does, here are the top things everyone should know about depression and addiction.
Depression Is Not a Personal Choice or Character Weakness
Unfortunately, there are still stigmas associated with mental illnesses such as depression. The truth is that depression is a very real illness and a brain disorder that is often caused by biological, genetic, psychological and environmental factors. Clinical depression isn’t something that can just be “snapped out of” through determination or willpower. Wealth, accomplishments and acclaim are no barrier or guarantee against it. When depression takes hold, it is not a voluntary decision, nor is it a character flaw. Depression is an illness.
Depression can be accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, fear, dread, despair, anxiety and self-loathing; it can disrupt sleep patterns and appetite, as well. Unfortunately, all too many people turn to alcohol or drugs to give them temporary relief from the symptoms of depression. One of the key things to realize about depression is that it is a disease that needs medical treatment just as much as cancer, heart disease or any other chronic illness.
Addiction Is a Disease, Too
Just as there shouldn’t be a stigma against mental illness, addiction should be seen and treated as a disease, as well. Like depression, addiction to alcohol or other drugs is an illness that is often caused and triggered by biological, genetic and environmental factors. Unfortunately, the two conditions can often be present simultaneously and tend to play off and exacerbate one another.
Depression Plus Addiction Are a Dangerous Duo
The illnesses of depression and addiction are hard enough to deal with if you just have one of them. Unfortunately, all too often, they go hand in hand, and their negative effects multiply when they happen concurrently. Suicide risk in both depressed and addicted persons is around 10 percent for each, but those struggling with both issues have a suicide risk factor of about 25 percent. Alcohol and drug use also impede depression medication and treatment effectiveness, and depression is the single biggest relapse trigger in persons who are addicted to alcohol.
Depression and Addiction Treatment Can Be Effective
As grim as all of this may sound, there is hope. Both depression and addiction are highly treatable. While the combination of the two conditions can be quite dangerous, treatment directed at both conditions can help the person suffering from them to overcome these issues and live a happy, fulfilling life. Changes to diet as well as holistic approaches can have a positive impact as well. However, treatment that only focuses on one of the conditions while ignoring or neglecting the other all but guarantees a relapse or recurrence.
Again, each individual person will require a unique, customized treatment approach; there is no one cookie-cutter solution that is guaranteed to work in all cases. The highest success rates when treating depression tend to occur when both medication and therapy are used in a long-term capacity. Many who suffer from recurrent depression will require ongoing care for lasting relief.
A Long-Term Approach Is Key
Substance abuse disorders also require long-term treatment to help minimize the chances of a relapse. A carefully planned aftercare program following addiction treatment is very important, as well. While some people can be prone to relapse, a great many will be able to achieve continuous abstinence after completing a high-quality treatment program.
At the Malibu Beach Recovery Centers we specialize in treating dual disorders such as alcoholism and depression, as well as drug, alcohol or pain medication abuse on its own. Our addiction treatment programs are based on current, validated medical science and the most effective holistic treatments, a combination that’s given us a proven record of success.