Seeking Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder: Why Addicts Self-Medicate

by | Apr 30, 2018 | Recovery | 0 comments

Home » Recovery » Seeking Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder: Why Addicts Self-Medicate

There are many misconceptions about addiction. One of them is that it is always a choice. Mental health plays a huge factor in the forming of serious addiction. The American Psychiatric Association classifies addiction as a complex condition. Major depressive disorder or depression goes hand in hand with addiction.  It is important to think about depression as a factor of addiction. Let’s explore the notion of self-medication in depressed addicts.

Major Depressive Disorder vs. Depressed Mood

Before we discuss the relationship that depression and addiction have, it is important to make a distinction. There are different types of depression and there are different connotations to what the word means. Being in a low mood does not necessarily mean that you have major depressive disorder. In other words, depressed with a lowercase “d” is different than Depression with an uppercase “D”.
If there is ever a time that being in a low mood resulted in alcohol or drug abuse, that can be considered self-medication. However, this article will focus more on treatment and understanding of Major Depressive Disorder. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) considers Depression a serious medical illness that can impact the way you act.
 
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Mental Health Issues Make Coping Harder

There are many roadblocks to feeling happy when you have a mental health illness. This is especially true with depression. Depressive symptoms can really cloud a person’s ability to cope with pain. Whereas some addicts might have begun drug abuse for recreational purposes, it is common that addicts with depressive disorders are using to hide from their pain.
Some typical mild depression symptoms include anger, hopelessness, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, lack of motivation, weight gain, weight loss, and insomnia. Going through these symptoms can definitely make it harder to process emotional stress.
This is why it is common for people with mild depression to self-medicate or use substance abuse to feel better. When they are in a low mood, they have a lack of motivation to use the skills they know to feel better. It’s more convenient to use.
Severe depression is similar, it makes coping with painful situations really hard. It also amplifies bad situations and makes them seem more severe. This can lead to substance abuse because it becomes overwhelming to try to feel better. Symptoms of severe depression include delusions, feelings of stupor, hallucinations or suicidal thoughts.
Health professionals grapple with how to help their patients suffering from depression. Treatment options become limited when alcohol or drug abuse comes into play. Clinical depression can be treated in a number of ways but that’s only if the person chooses to seek help. Usually, persistent depression leads to substance abuse because people simply don’t know where else to turn for solutions to their problems.

Depressive Disorders and Addiction Go Hand in Hand

The cause of depression can be a number of different things. Perhaps you had a traumatic experience. Perhaps it’s simply genetic. Perhaps things aren’t going the best in your current lifestyle. When addiction comes into play, substance abuse ends up being a huge cause of depression.
People with depression and addiction often don’t realize that substance abuse can make their brain’s way of thinking change, causing depression to worsen. Similarly, the depression as it worsens causes alcohol and drug abuse to worsen. This is because the person begins to have a harder time coping. The two mental health issues follow each other in a cycle.
Treating depression at the same time as addiction needs to be done carefully because of this cycle. The good news is that when one issue it tackled, the other will inevitably become easier to solve. If a person is binge drinking because of depression and anxiety, this binge drinking will cause a higher risk of depression. This higher risk of depression will turn into more drinking and can even lead to suicide attempts or violent action.
In the setting of a treatment center, if this patient were able to tackle their mental health issues, they would have less of a desire to use. On the other hand, since this person wouldn’t be able to use in a rehab setting, their depression symptoms would ultimately calm down at least a bit.
It is important to realize how one mental health issue can affect another one. The risk of depression multiplies with substance abuse and vice versa. Once this is understood, it can be realized how amazing treatment would be for someone going through these issues at the same time. Treatment could break the cycle and lower the risk factors of further substance abuse causing depression.
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Seek Help for Depressive Disorders and Addiction

If you are feeling a low mood nearly every day and you’re also finding yourself using drugs or alcohol a lot, we recommend dual diagnosis rehab. Dual diagnosis rehab is a treatment program that focuses on the healing of your mental health as well as your addiction as a package deal. People with depression need to be taken care of in an environment where they can feel as understood as possible. Since it is hard nearly every day to cope with pain, they need to be in a place that does not feel painful.
The way dual diagnosis is treated is a little bit less blunt. Clinical depression, as said before is not the same as the state of feeling sad on a bad day. It can and should be taken seriously by medical professionals. It should be treated in relation to your addiction so that your addiction is not fueled by it any longer.
While it is possible to get help from many different sources, think about trying to combine forces and confront your mental health as a package deal. You’ll be able to understand a lot more about yourself, your peers and your well being.  

Major Depressive Order Might Stick Around

Rehab is amazing. It can definitely provide you with ways to cope with your feelings that are way healthier than using drugs or alcohol. With that said, it cannot cure everything. Medical detox is amazing because it can provide you with serotonin reuptake inhibitors as you recover. This is just a fancy way of saying antidepressant medication. They help your brain balance out the chemicals that are causing depression.
Past medical detox and cognitive behavioral therapy, though, your clinical depression could simply be a part of you that sticks around. It will definitely improve throughout your time confronting addiction. That is guaranteed. But, this mental illness is something that plants a seed in people and while that can be really sad, it doesn’t have to be.
The feelings of sadness that comes from depression can be prevented using coping skills that are more effective than using drugs or alcohol. As we talked about, anxiety and depression worsens with the use of substances to solve problems. When you’re out of rehab and even when you’re in it, you have become more capable of using long-lasting coping skills. This is helpful for when you have low moods later on in life.
Instead of being scared about your signs and symptoms, welcome them. While recovery from addiction is possible, it’s sometimes impossible to fully recover from a mood disorder. There are ways to make sure that mood disorder does not outweigh the beautiful parts of life, though. That is what going to a treatment center helps you to realize.

Watch For The Warning Signs

If you have depression and anxiety, begin to pay closer attention to your actions. Next time you feel that you may be going through a depressive episode, ask yourself these questions.

  • What can I do to cope with how I am feeling?
  • Will alcohol or drug abuse solve the problem?
  • Why am I feeling this way?

Most importantly, know what triggers you. If you know the things that upset you, try to avoid having to experience them. Or, confront them at a time when you feel confident to. It is crucial that you know yourself so you can help yourself find support and balance.
 

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