Dual Diagnosisdepression and substance abuse

What Classifies As Depression?

There is still a lot of misinformation regarding what is and what isn’t depression. Because of this, many people suffering from a depressive disorder might never be diagnosed, which is an issue as bad as it would be with any illness that is not treated. On the other hand, self-diagnosing and medicating have become extremely common as well. In both cases, the main issue is that people still fail to grasp exactly what could be classified as depression.

Feelings of sadness or grief, though often seen as unpleasant and disruptive, shouldn’t necessarily be a cause for concern in case there is a reason behind it – the death of a loved one, unemployment, break-ups, etc – and if they manifest themselves for short periods of time. Nonetheless, those two symptoms are two of the most common in most depressive disorders, and when combined with others, if they linger for weeks or months, they can be a true sign of depression. If it comes to a point where someone is not able to fulfill mundane tasks or start to lose track of their lives, then it is certainly cause for concern and it is likely they are suffering from a disorder.

Some of the signs of depression include:

  • Low mood (not necessarily just sadness)
  • Low self-esteem, negative sense of self, or even guilt
  • Less pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Appetite changes (eating too much or too little)
  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Reduced physical energy, or fatigue
  • Increased purposeless activities (hand wringing, pacing)
  • Slowed rhythm in speech and/or movements
  • Having a hard time making decisions, concentrating, or thinking
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

It is important to point out that experiencing one or a few of these symptoms at once does not mean you are suffering from depression. The only way to truly know whether you are depressed or actually affected by another disorder is to see a trustworthy health care provider who can properly diagnose you.

How Alcohol Can Affect Depression

It is not unusual for people, even those who are not alcoholics, to take their emotions out on drinking. Now, it’s one thing to have a casual drink, and it is not necessarily a sign of anything per se. But for some, a casual drink can start happening more and more often. On people who have a tendency or family history of depression, the odds of a habit getting out of control are actually higher. 

While the occasional drink might not do anyone much harm, long-term frequent drinking can actually worsen the symptoms of depression. One of the reasons why some turn to alcohol to feel better is because it works as a depressant, giving a general feeling of relaxation. The problem with that is that, as time goes by, more and more alcohol is needed in order to feel as relaxed as before. 

That is a problem with alcohol that anyone can face, but someone suffering from depression will have additional problems to consider. Alcohol can actually lower the effectiveness of antidepressants, or even render them completely ineffective. And since the substance is a depressant after all, as the name suggests, it can aggravate symptoms of depression and make matters worse.

Alcohol and Depression: What is Dual-diagnosis?

Not only is it possible to suffer from both depression and alcoholism, but it is actually quite common for people to receive what is called a dual diagnosis. A dual-diagnosis patient is a person who suffers from any two psychiatric illnesses and addiction, one of the possibilities being depression and alcoholism.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, an average of 6 out of 10 substance abusers are also diagnosed with another mental illness – meaning it happens more often than not. When it comes to alcohol abuse specifically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that it is one of the behaviors that are often associated with depression.

In some cases, people develop symptoms of depression first and eventually try to “treat” them with substances such as alcohol. Some studies also suggest that people commonly develop alcoholism and that his causes major depression. The order is can go varies, and studies are still being made in order to understand why the two are often connected, and which triggers what. Nonetheless, it is known that both disorders feed off of each other, leaving the user in a cycle that can be hard to break.

It is important to point out that a number of factors can influence both disorders as well, such as environment and lifestyle, genetics, and finally, chemical imbalances. It is not just a matter of behavior or choosing to do certain things. Considering how we are all easily exposed to alcohol in our lives, it can be hard to say which of these aspects of someone’s life can be the main “reason” for co-occurring disorders. But the point should never be to attribute blame but to find the root(s) of the problems in order to treat them. 

Getting The Help You Need

There are a number of studies on what would be the best way to treat co-occurring disorders, and it can be done in different ways: sequential, parallel, or integrated. In sequential treatment, one would address the most acute disorder first, and only afterward get treated for the second one; in parallel treatment, they’re treated at the same time by different teams; and in integrated treatment, the patient would be treated for everything by the same group of professionals. 

No matter which treatment you’d prefer for your co-occurring disorders, we at Amethyst Recovery Center can help you with what you need. In fact, we have developed a special program for dual-diagnosis patients. Many people are misdiagnosed or mistreated for one or more disorders, and our professionals are capable of providing all the services needed to undo that damage, from the initial detox all the way to helping make plans for the immediate future right after a patient leaves our facilities.

If this sounds like what you or a loved one might need, know that we are ready to welcome anyone who is struggling. Visit our website or contact us at your convenience by calling (888) 447-7724. We have a team available 24/7 that can answer any questions you might have and guide you on your first steps to the rest of your life, into a healthy chapter, free of addiction.

References:

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/depression

https://www.alcohol.org/co-occurring-disorder/depression/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712746/

https://archives.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2007/02/addiction-co-occurring-mental-disorders

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-anatomy-addiction/201110/what-is-dual-diagnosis

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712746/

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression/symptoms

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