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Managing Depression During Addiction Recovery

Depression is a mental disability that affects about 10% of Americans, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is common for people that struggle with depression to also have issues with addiction. After all, many people reach for drugs or alcohol to numb themselves to painful thoughts and experiences. Unfortunately, alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which can further trigger feelings of sadness or hopelessness. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has found that about 90% of Americans who commit suicide also struggled with depression, substance abuse, or both. The combination of depression and addiction is known as a dual diagnosis.

Integrated treatment

The combination of depression and addiction can present many challenges when it comes to treatment. Integrated treatment is the best option for managing both of these mental health issues. This type of plan will focus on five main goals:
  • Understanding how your depression interacts with your substance use
  • Learning that recovery is possible
  • Offering motivation to make life changes
  • Providing skills for handling negative thoughts without addictive substances
  • Helping to identify and change addictive behavior patterns
Therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy, is often very beneficial for dealing with a dual diagnosis. In some cases, medication, such as antidepressants, can be part of an effective treatment program for managing depression while also dealing with addiction recovery.

No quick fix

Because of the complexity of a dual diagnosis, there is no “quick fix” treatment solution. It takes time for individuals in recovery to adequately learn the tools they need to handle both depression and addiction. Having support, encouragement, and motivation from family, friends, and treatment professionals can be an invaluable part of your recovery journey, giving you the strength to continue when challenges inevitably arise. Remember that neither depression or addiction are weaknesses. Both are mental health disorders that are caused by a complicated blend of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Spotting The Signs of Depression and Addiction

If you experience five or more of the following symptoms daily, you may have depression:
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite/weight loss
  • Increased appetite/weight gain
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Crying often or easily
  • Ache and pains
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of guilt
  • A sense of worthlessness
  • General irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating on daily tasks
  • A loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
Addiction has four main warning signs:
  • Tolerance to the effects of a drug or alcohol that requires you to take larger and larger amounts to achieve the same effect.
  • Physical symptoms of withdrawal, like nausea, tremors, or cold sweats, if you reduce your intake.
  • Feelings of guilt or sadness after drinking or taking the drug.
  • Cravings or withdrawal symptoms that drive you to resume your addictive habits
If you are in the Los Angeles area and need help with depression and addiction, Forward Recovery can help. Owned and operated by local clinicians, our programs take a structured approach to treatment, providing integrated and trauma-informed therapy led by licensed mental health and substance abuse professionals. Contact us today at (844) 387-6889. We’re here, and we’re ready to talk to you.