Depression is a clinical disorder in which individuals experience lengthy periods of intense sadness along with a lack of energy. In addition to these negative emotions, people may also experience suicidal ideation and, in extreme cases, feel driven to act upon those impulses. Several factors contribute to this disorder, and they can include hereditary, personality traits, past or present trauma, environmental factors or any combination of these. Despite the many-faceted nature of depression, it can be effectively treated, and those who seek treatment can manage their symptoms and recover.

Individuals suffering from depression have many treatment options. These include medications which patients can take in the long-term or short-term, psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy (in extreme cases) and self-treatment, only if the depression has an extremely mild presentation. Also, depression can be prevented or mitigated in many ways. For example, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and engaging socially can all be effective means of treating mild depression. However, more extreme presentations of the disease will require qualified medical treatment.

Unfortunately, in many instances, individuals suffering from depression will attempt to treat their mental health symptoms through the use of drugs and alcohol, also known as self-medicating. Self-medication, however, always results in additional adverse symptoms and health problems which stem from drug use. The most significant risk that people face when they self-medicate, however, is the high likelihood of dependency and addiction. Since drugs and alcohol will not treat the underlying mental health condition, sufferers are left using increasing amounts of drugs and alcohol for longer periods of time with no improvements to their mental health — only prolonged suffering and more symptoms to battle with.

However, before any mental health issues can be treated, including depression, patients must first deal with their drug use problems. Failure to do so will prevent your medical teams from isolating the symptoms of your mental health problems, preventing an accurate diagnosis, delaying your treatment and preventing you from receiving the treatment you need. Not only will substance use disguise your symptoms, but it will also undermine any mental health treatment you do receive, leaving both conditions untreated.

Signs of Depression

Signs of depression differ from the natural sadness all of us experience at some point in our lives, and these symptoms of mental health problems may be most readily apparent to your friends and loved ones, those who know you best. Unlike sadness, which has an incipient cause such as the death of a loved one or a job loss, symptoms of depression frequently do not have an obvious or specific origin. To qualify as depression, these symptoms must last for two weeks or more and must not be associated with other causes.

These symptoms include:

  • Extended periods of sadness or “depressed” moods
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Lack of interest in once favored activities
  • Inability to fall asleep
  • Inability to stay awake
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Meaningless actions, including fidgeting or pacing
  • Slowed speech
  • Slowed movements
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Low-self worth
  • Cognitive impairment, concentration issues or decision-making problems
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Frequent thoughts of death

Another way to differentiate healthy expressions of sadness from symptoms of a mental health disorder is the length and quality of the feelings being experienced. Grief often includes a healthy self-esteem with a mixture of feelings including both sad and happy emotions, while those suffering from depression will feel low self-esteem and a plethora of negative emotions almost exclusively. However, when grief and depression coincide, which can happen, it can be increasingly difficult to diagnose depression.

Treating Depression and Addiction

If you suffer from depression, self-medicating with substances will always make your problems worse. For example, if you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, this will intensify your depression symptoms instead of alleviating them, because alcohol is a depressant. All other depressants will also have the same negative and harmful effects. Alcohol abuse can also bring on depression in individuals who otherwise may never have had problems with the disease.

If you suffer from depression, you need to get help. According to a 2016 study, of the over 44,000 suicide deaths in the United States that occurred, over 50 percent of those involved individuals with depression. Another 30 percent of these deaths were related to alcohol abuse or addiction. If you have both clinical depression and an alcohol abuse problem, you rate of suicide approaches 25 percent since each problem exacerbates the other. This is also true for depressants other than alcohol. Further, if you treat only your substance abuse problem, for example, untreated depression can frequently trigger a relapse.

 

Bayview Recovery’s Approach to Depression and Addiction Treatment

No one who suffers from depression or a substance abuse problem should let these conditions go untreated. Either condition can have devastating consequences on your health, and if you have both depression and a substance abuse problem, you face even more substantial risks, which can include the risk of suicide and death. However, attempting to treat either problem on your own can be dangerous and ineffective and invite a relapse which comes with more severe symptoms.

To break free of depression and substance abuse, first you need to detox, and Bayview Recovery can work with your medical provider to ensure a successful and safe detox from whatever substances you may be using. Without first conquering your substance use issues, any mental health treatment you receive will likely prove ineffective. Detox, however, will not be enough to put your depression and drug use behind you.

You will also need highly-focused, individualized rehab along with therapy to understand the reasons behind your habit and give you strategies to stay healthy emotionally and physically. Bayview Recovery’s highly-qualified and compassionate support staff along with its comprehensive wellness programs can provide you with everything you need to manage your depression and stay sober long-term.

Call Bayview Recovery today at 888.570.7154 for more information about how individualized rehab and therapy can help you overcome drug addiction and co-occurring depression and help you regain a healthy, drug-free life.