Chronic Depression as a Gateway to Substance Abuse

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chronic depressionFeelings of being down or glum happen to everyone now and again. The ability to pick oneself up by doing activities that inspire creativity, bring joy and happiness are ways to help combat this feeling. When it becomes a chronic, long term issue of feeling more sad than happy it can be signs of a more serious problem; depression. Clinical depression is a serious condition which can have severe consequences for an individual, family and loved ones.

 

Substance Abuse and Chronic Depression

Addiction is common among people with chronic depression. Alcohol is a nervous system suppressant which can trigger feelings of depression which start with lethargy, hopelessness and sadness. Individuals who struggle with depression may also reach for drugs or alcohol as a way to numb pain, lift their spirits or generally take the focus away from stresses of daily life which may trigger depressive episodes.

 

Dual Diagnosis

When a person struggles with both addiction and a depressive disorder, it is called a dual diagnosis. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states a dual diagnosis occurs when someone experiences a “mental illness and a substance abuse problem simultaneously. It can be more mild or severe depending on the individual.”  The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reports one in three adults suffer from depression who struggle with alcohol or substance abuse.

 

Getting Help

One does not necessarily lead to another when it comes to depression and substance abuse. Every individual has their own story and reasons why addiction begins, and continues, to affect them. There is no panacea, or one size fits all treatment. People who struggle with depression may exhibit signs of feeling hopeless, anxiety, loss of energy and appetite changes. This may lead a person to pursue substance abuse as a way to self-medicate these symptoms. Chronic depression will not go away without treatment. Substance use in addition to depressive episodes can lead to addiction which requires treatment with therapists or counselors who specialize in co-occuring or dual diagnosis disorders.

Drinking or use of substances will not make depression better, in fact, it might even make it worse and exacerbate symptoms. Treatment options are available and should include detox, counseling and careful aftercare planning. Counseling, peer support and education are necessary components to help individuals with dual diagnosis ensure they are moving towards their goals successfully in recovery.

 

If you believe yourself or a loved one is struggling with depression in addition to a substance abuse problem, help is available. Trained counselors and therapists are ready to answer any questions you might have. Call today for more information 800-910-9299.