A Dual Diagnosis: The Connection Between Depression and Addiction

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Depression and Addiction

For most people having a bad day, whether it be due to problems at home, work, or in relationships, the “blues” are easily remedied by doing something that they love and enjoy doing. These down days come and go with the ebb and flow of life, and are easily moved past during the normal course of the running’s of daily life. The reality for those who suffer from depression is something quite different though. Those emotional low periods do not pass as easily as it does for others. Clinical depression is a serious mental disability that carries severe consequences for those suffering from it, and for their loved ones. Defined as a more severe form of depression, clinical depression comes with a host of unpleasant symptoms, and has the ability to prevent people from leading regular, happy, and fulfilled lives.

A Bit About Depression

While most people throw around the label of depression with some ease in today’s society, there is measured difference between having clinical depression and a case of the “blues”. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, clinical depression lasts for a period of at least two weeks, and has a direct influence on one’s ability to work, maintain healthy relationships, and function on a social level. People that struggle with depression may experience five or more of the following symptoms on a daily basis:

* Feeling of Hopelessness
* Anxiety
* Loss of Appetite/Weight Loss
* Increased Appetite/Weight Gain
* Sleeping too much or too little
* Tearfulness
* Aches and Pains
* Loss of Energy
* A Sense of Worthlessness
* General Irritability
* Difficulty Concentrating on Daily/Routine Tasks
* Loss of Interest in Hobbies and /or Activities
* Suicidal Thoughts/Tendencies/Attempts

While depression frequently presents itself as feelings of sadness, low energy, and hopelessness, some, especially males, experience these feelings in forms of irritability, hostility, and anger. With clinical depression, the basic day-to-day tasks seem impossible, and the mood seems permanent. The escape that clinically depressed people get, comes in the form of drinking, drugs, gambling, sex, or any other temporary pick-me-up. The overwhelming feelings of pain and emptiness that is felt by these individuals is temporarily drowned out by the good feeling of the addiction, even though the two complement each other for the worse.

Depression’s Path to Addiction

More often than not, depression is the gateway to substance abuse. Those who experience what depression has to offer, use alcohol and drugs in order to escape their negative emotions, and feelings of absolute aloneness. If depressed individuals are using drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, the chances are that they are heading down the fast road to full-blown addiction. This attempt to self-medicate is a vain attempt to drown those feelings of despair. There are some tell-tail signs of an addiction that can, and should, be looked out for:

Tolerance – the body becomes accustomed to the effects of the substance, and larger amounts are required to achieve the same desired effects.
Withdrawal – a reduction in intake of the substance will have physical effects on the user’s body. These include: nervousness, tremors, cold sweats, agitation and irritability, and depressed mood.
Remorse – a feeling of sadness and guilty may ensue after using the drug, even though it was taken to feel better.
Relapse – users are once again abusing their substance of choice due to withdrawal, cravings, destructive habits, stressful situations or stressful triggers.

Substance abuse is prevalent among those who struggle with a depressive disorder, and as alcohol and drugs tend to depress the nervous system, the abuse of these substances will only make the condition worse. When an individual is suffering from both depression and addiction, a dual diagnosis is a necessary treatment path for the effected individual. The inherent risk associated with depression (accidental injury, weak immune system and body, prone to serious ailments and chronic illness) are increased exponentially when compounded with the continuous use of drugs and alcohol, not to mention the emotional collapse that is imminent. It has been noted that in many such cases, people tend to drop out of a conventional rehab program due to not having the right level of therapeutic support for a sober patient, and dual diagnosis treatment is the integrated treatment you would be looking for.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis Treatment is the best remedy for a person suffering from both a depressive disorder, and an addiction. The challenge with a dual diagnosis is that it is so hard to treat. Each disorder can intensify the symptoms of the other, and can in fact, make either condition more serious. Beating the addiction to the substance is nearly impossible if the root cause of the depression is not struck. The depression is more than likely going to keep them from attaining the proper mindset to overcome their addiction to the substance, due to the high level of complexity of a dual diagnosis patient. Dual diagnosis patients are different from regular rehab attendees, and require more than a one-dimensional rehab program. Here at Twin Rivers Rehab in Plettenberg Bay, we are readily equipped and able to deal with a patient’s psychiatric problems, as well as their alcohol and drug addiction needs. We are able to assist with dual diagnosis treatment and a proper detox, professional counselling, and a effective aftercare planning.

There is no need to have to struggle through the pains of depression and addiction. The feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction alone are enough to deal with. Let’s not make it harder on ourselves than we already have it. Get the help you need and deserve, from professionals who care. Don’t let these two hands wash each other, they will never come clean together.
MrG