Depression and addiction are interconnected and often lead to a dual diagnosis, but why? Let’s take a closer look at this important relationship.
All areas of addicts’ lives are affected when depression and addiction become the focal point. Getting someone with these health issues into treatment can be a battle within itself.
Although a common combination, these two diseases when coupled together can be very dangerous.
No one has to suffer alone. There is treatment available for those dealing with this double threat.
Continue reading for more information on what it means to receive a dual diagnosis.
Recognizing the Symptoms
The symptoms of depression and addiction mirror each other. This can make it difficult to receive an accurate diagnosis.
Some of the most common signs are irritability, loss of interest in favorite activities, sadness, and isolation. You or your loved one may also neglect their appearance and have a noticeable change in sleep and eating patterns. Having one or two of these symptoms may not be an issue, but when combined together should be cause for concern.
Approximately 8 million Americans are dealing with multiple mental disorders. Sometimes the symptoms can form during adolescence.
Understanding depression is key to early treatment. It comes in many forms and requires a professional to determine the specific illness. The disease affects individuals differently based on gender and age.
Oftentimes, depression is overlooked as someone being moody or having a bad day. Depression is real, and most importantly it is treatable.
There are many variables that contribute to depression. It could be genetics, a chemical imbalance in the brain, or a traumatic experience.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), has identified six common forms of depression:
- Major depression
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Psychotic depression
- Postpartum depression
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and
- Bipolar disorder
Depression is exacerbated when addiction is added to the equation.
What is Addiction?
Like depression, addiction is a serious form of mental illness. It affects or changes the normal function of the brain.
Addiction is dependence on drugs that alter your mood or mind. Alcohol, marijuana, prescription painkillers and over-the-counter (OTC) medications are the most common addictive substances.
The way addiction differs from depression is the brain is altered by the use of drugs. Drug usage is often self-imposed and becomes habit forming over time. It may sound like a cliche, but addiction can be avoided by many if they just say “no” to drugs.
Educating youth on the negative implications of drug use is one way of combating addiction. However, abuse of marijuana and OTC’s among teenagers is becoming a huge concern.
Relationship between Depression and Addiction
The relationship between depression and addiction is real. Dual diagnosis is a common term used in the mental health community. It means that a patient is dealing with both drug addiction and a form or mental illness.
Oftentimes drugs and alcohol are unknowingly used to treat mental health issues. A person believes that the drug will help relieve whatever they are experiencing. Instead, it only serves to worsen the condition.
The addictive nature results from the temporary feeling of relief that comes from self-medicating.
Look at it this way, someone has a life experience that makes him feel sad, so he smokes marijuana to feel better. Now, every time he feels sad he gets high. This becomes an addiction.
Moments of sadness are normal when it is a temporary emotional reaction to an event. To a person suffering from depression, sadness can be recurring and may not have a trigger.
If you are constantly experiencing emotional highs and lows, it should be a cause for concern. Self-diagnosis and self-medicating should never be the answer.
Treatments for Co-existing Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
With any mental illness, it is important to seek treatment. Depression and addiction are no different.
To combat this sometimes deadly combination, intense therapeutic treatment is needed.
Common treatments include an in-patient treatment program. Going through detox to rid the body of toxins is a crucial first step.
Counseling is also very important and a mandatory part of rehab facilities.
Once the patient has been stabilized, the center may introduce healthy leaving techniques. These will include changes to the patient’s diet and an exercise routine.
Having a support system in place, whether in-patient or out-patient, is an awesome tool. Of course, while in a treatment facility that support is there. When the patient returns home he will also need accountability partners and people to keep him encouraged.
In some cases, patients may require medication to treat both depression and addiction, as part of a dual diagnosis program.
Those dealing with mental illness and substance abuse must come to terms with accepting there is no magical cure. Overcoming their illness will require hard work, commitment, and patience.
It is a long process and they must stay encouraged.
You have a Dual Diagnosis Now What?
You have sought professional help and the signs of depression and addiction have led to a dual diagnosis. The next step is receiving proper treatment.
Professionals can determine the root cause of your depression. It will also be important to know which came first, the depression or the addiction. Yes, drug addiction can cause some forms of mental illness.
Planning a course of action as quickly as possible can impact success rates.
Some people may seek treatment locally. Others may find it best to get far away from a familiar environment.
Choosing the right facility is a huge step that comes with another onslaught of questions. Understanding your illness and what’s available is the gateway to learning how to manage your life.
Muse is Here to Help!
Muse Los Angeles Drug Rehab Center specializes in treating individuals with dual diagnosis. Muse employs an integrated treatment approach to ensure proper treatment. Our staff of highly trained professionals have years of experience treating dual diagnosis.
If you or your loved one is battling mental illness coupled with substance abuse it is time to seek help.
Contact Muse Los Angeles today for a confidential consultation. We have addiction specialists who can talk to you regarding your options.