Understanding the Link between Depression and Addiction
It is estimated that at least one-third of people dealing with addiction problems also suffer from depression. These two disorders are closely linked, and this is why an increasing number of drug rehab centres offer depression treatment as part of their daily programme. By dealing with both of these problems together – this is referred to as dual diagnosis treatment – the person has a much greater chance of success.
Using Alcohol or Drugs as Depression Treatment
One reason for why people can fall into the trap of substance abuse is that they are trying to self-medicate because they feel depression. Addiction can manifest itself very quickly without them even realising what is going on – they just know that when they are ‘high’ and that they feel a bit better.
The early symptoms of depression can first appear during the teenage years, but it is easy to mistake this mental discomfort as just a normal part of adolescence – “she’s just being moody or quiet”. When people with these symptoms start experimenting with alcohol or drugs, they can enjoy a temporary reprieve from their symptoms. The problem is this behaviour is ultimately exacerbating their depression, and it can easily lead to addiction.
Some people also develop depression as a result of their addiction. Drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine can trigger chemical changes in the brain that can lead to intense period of depression, even to the point of feeling suicidal. Alcohol is a type of drug known as a depressant and abusing this substance can easily lead to alcohol-induced depression – this usually subsides once the person quits drinking.
Importance of Depression Treatment as Part of Addiction Recovery
Self-medication is an ineffective way of dealing with depression, but it may be the only strategy the person has for dealing with the problem. It means that when people break free of addiction, they can be suddenly left with no mechanism for managing their symptoms. The uncontrolled depression can suck all the joy out of recovery, and it puts the person at high risk of relapse. In many cases, these people don’t even realise that it is this mental health disorder that is the source of their continued recovery struggles.
If you are dealing with depression and addiction problems, it can feel like a bit of a catch-22 situation. Staying sober is going to be a challenge until the depression is properly managed, but it can be hard to treat the depression while you are still abusing alcohol or drugs. This is because these substances make antidepressant medication ineffective, and you can’t gain much benefit from therapy while caught up in addictive thinking.
Treatment for Addiction and Depression at Twin Rivers Rehab
Here at Twin Rivers Rehab, we understand the importance of managing depression as well as the addictive behaviours. We feel it is important to combine medication and therapy in order to help the client respond to treatment. If a client feels less depressed then they may well respond better to psychotherapy and could end up not needing any medication at all! So both medication and psychotherapy , when professionally worked together have proven to improve clients recovery outcomes. Our team is qualified and experienced with dealing with this type of dual diagnosis, and you will follow a programme based on your exact needs.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process