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How Does Depression Relate to Addiction?

It is not uncommon for people who struggle with overwhelming symptoms stemming from a mental health condition like depression to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to relax or reduce the intensity of their symptoms. Inevitably, chronic substance abuse can lead to new or worsening mental health symptoms. This means that using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate or manage your symptoms without seeking mental health treatment may not provide any form of lasting benefit. Conversely, it could make your condition worse.

What is Depression?

Feeling blue or “down in the dumps” from time to time is a shared experience for most people. Everyone has moments where they don’t feel happy or overwhelmingly upset about a particular situation or event. When this occurs, we usually refer to these emotions as feeling “depressed.” For many, these feelings are typically short-lived. Often, they will resolve on their own soon after the event or situation resolves. Clinical depression is different. The emotions you experience when you have depression are more than temporary feelings of sadness.

In the mental health community, depression is also referred to as major depressive disorder or clinical depression. These conditions are characterized by overwhelming symptoms of emptiness, sadness, or irritability that affect your ability to function in your day-to-day environment. Without treatment, these symptoms can become so overwhelming that they lead to a loss of function at work and home. For someone to meet the clinical diagnostic criteria for depression, these symptoms must last for a minimum of two weeks. Additionally, the symptoms you experience during depressive episodes must be different from your previous level of functioning. In other words, your symptoms must lead to a clinically significant change in mood and ability.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?

Depression is not the most common mental illness; however, it affects approximately one out of every fifteen American adults. This averages out to about 7% of adults over the age of eighteen each year. Additionally, another 16% will experience depression at some point in their life. Depression is an illness that can occur at any time; however, it generally appears in one’s early teens through mid-20s. Like other mental illnesses, depression is more likely to affect women than men. Some studies indicate more than 1/3 of women will experience major depression at some point in their life.

When someone struggles with depression, they will experience different symptoms. Depending on the individual, they may experience psychological, physical, or behavioral symptoms or a combination of all categories. It is also important to note that depression will “look” different from person to person. Frequently experienced signs and symptoms of depression often include feelings of sadness and hopelessness, loss of interest in hobbies or activities, difficulties concentration, low self-esteem, exhaustion, appetite changes, increased isolation, poor personal hygiene, and self-harm.

Can Addiction Cause Depression?

Many wonder if substance use can cause depression or, conversely, can depression cause addiction. Some research does indicate a direct link between substance use disorders and depression. Each disease can increase the risk of developing the other. Additionally, struggling with the symptoms of one or the other can worsen symptoms of both. Both conditions rank among the most prevalent mental health conditions and frequently co-occur.

Some people may experience overwhelming depression symptoms for which they turn to drugs or alcohol to manage. It is not uncommon for someone who experiences depression symptoms to turn to various substances to help reduce the intensity and severity of their symptoms. Unfortunately, this leads to reliance or dependency on drugs and alcohol to help relieve symptoms and improve mood. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry, also points out that there may be a direct link between substance use disorders and the development of major depressive disorders in some individuals.

Finding Depression Treatment in Freehold, NJ

If you or a loved one struggles with a dual diagnosis like depression and a substance use disorder, seeking dual diagnosis treatment is a vital part of your recovery. Although treatment of any kind is an essential first step, completing a treatment program that addresses the needs of only one condition increases your potential for relapse in symptoms and a return to using drugs or alcohol to cope. Not all treatment programs are designed to treat dual diagnosis conditions, and therefore, it is vital to find one where your treatment program will meet your treatment needs. Contact our Freehold, NJ rehab today to learn more about depression treatment at Relevance Recovery.

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