Depression is a widespread but severe mood disorder, also referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder. This disorder is more significant than just being sad, and the individual dealing with depression can’t just “turn it off” when willing. Depression produces severe symptoms that affect how people feel, think, and deal with daily life activities, like sleeping, eating, attending school, and working.
To be diagnosed with depression disorder, your symptoms must last at least two weeks. If you are battling depression, it is possible that you might also be suffering from a co-occurring disorder like substance abuse.
Types of Depression and Related Disorders
When it comes to diagnosing and treating depression, psychiatric specialists use several categories. Accompanying these categories are various depressive disorders associated with particular life stressors, psychological states, or emotionally tiring circumstances. These situational disorders share several of the symptoms of depression, but they occur and develop under specific conditions and could resolve once these circumstances are changed
This is different from depression. Individuals suffering from this disorder have experiences of remarkably low moods, referred to as bipolar depression, which meets the criteria for major depression.
Major Depressive Disorder
This form is defined by at least two weeks of feeling a low, depressed mood, along with 4 or more additional depression symptoms. These would include symptoms such as suicidal thoughts, lack of physical energy, sleep disorders, or feelings of low self-value.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Also known as dysthymia or dysthymic disorder, persistent depressive disorder is distinguished by low moods and depressive symptoms that extend for two or more years.
Those who have persistent depressive disorder might appear to be moody, gloomy, or irritable, but these traits may be signs of a mood disorder. Symptoms might not be as severe as a major depressive episode, but the sufferer’s quality of life could be just as critical.
This form commonly occurs in women after giving childbirth. It is described as mild depression and anxiety symptoms that disappear around two weeks post-delivery. Women with this kind of depression experience full-blown extreme depression throughout pregnancy or following delivery, affecting their daily actions for themselves and their newborns.
This form of depression occurs when an individual experiences severe depression and some psychosis. Psychosis is a condition when an individual experiences delusions or hallucinations.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
This type of depression is considered to be a state of depression that affects people during the winter months. It may disappear during the spring and summer months.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Unlike normal sadness or grief, which may occur briefly after a loss, depression symptoms happen nearly every day for weeks, months, or even years, which can interfere with all phases of an individual’s life.
To receive an official diagnosis of depression, an individual must experience 5 or more symptoms of depression disorder daily for at least two weeks. Also, these symptoms must not be related to a co-occurring medical condition or from substance abuse.
Some symptoms of depression include:
- Constant depressed mood
- Sleep disturbances
- Fluxation of weight
- Physical fatigue
- Low energy levels
- Concentration or memory issues
- Persistent thoughts about death
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Persistently feeling worthlessness, guilty, or self-hatred
Depression symptoms may cause problems with school, work, family, and other relationships. Individuals suffering from a depressive episode might have trouble getting out of bed in the morning due to a lack of motivation.
They might lose interest in hobbies they were once passionate about or avoid activities that once gave them pleasure. They may feel frequently tearful, speak about harming themselves, or obsess over ideas of death.
For the loved ones of someone suffering from depression, dealing with the symptoms can be both frustrating and terrifying. It’s natural to try to cheer up a loved one or to encourage them to be happy, but depression symptoms don’t respond to these suggestions of help.
Depression and Substance Abuse
Substance abuse commonly occurs in the lives of individuals suffering from a depressive disorder. While in a depressive state, most individuals look for something to uplift their feelings or to paralyze their painful thoughts. Popular substances used are alcohol or drugs to achieve this craved feeling. The dilemma is that depression and substance abuse play off of each other, resulting in both conditions worsening.
Usually, those who suffer from depression abuse alcohol to cope with their mental health disorder symptoms. This may result in users contracting co-occurring disorders of alcohol addiction and depression.
When an individual suffers from addiction and depression, professionals may refer to it as a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis is a combination of mental disorders like depression and addiction. Clinical depression has a high risk of self-harm, unintentional injury, and suicide.
Depression also takes a physical impact on the body. It can weaken the body by suppressing the immune system, leaving them susceptible to physical and chronic illness. When alcohol or drugs combine with a pre-existing condition, it makes for a hazardous mix and increases risks of poor physical and emotional health.
Studies show that over 8 million adults across the nation deal with co-occurring disorders. Despite the extreme amount of sufferers battling these disorders, fewer than 8% of them obtained treatment for their co-occurring disorder.
More About Co-Occurring Addiction and Depression
For those experiencing a co-occurring disorder that includes substance abuse, the initial step is to receive detoxification before starting treatment. A widespread misunderstanding when it comes to treating addiction is that patients should only address the substance abuse element of the problem. Treatment should be holistic and should help patients work through all relevant factors, including any co-occurring disorders.
Depression and substance abuse often involve:
- Brain chemistry imbalances
- Family history
- Prior trauma
Also, the psychological and physical effects of substance addiction could conceal the signs of depression or worsen the symptoms of this psychiatric disorder.
Receiving Help for Depression & Co-Occurring Addiction
Living with an individual who experiences depressive episodes can be both uncomfortable and stressful. It’s natural for loved ones to feel incapable, frustrated, and even emotionally exhausted when dealing with depression. Addressing a loved one about depression and substance abuse is challenging, but it could also prevent critical harm to the individual suffering.
Without guidance, depression and substance abuse could continuously get worse until the individual becomes severely ill. It’s even likely that intervention could help in preventing a suicide attempt and save their life.
Those struggling with depression usually experience isolation, loneliness, and powerlessness. Offering support and practical resolutions might make an immense difference in the way a depressed individual thinks about their future.
Mental health professionals are invaluable partners in the process of intervening with someone suffering from depression. With the direction of a therapist, families can learn about the details that drive depression and learn how to relate to someone with this disorder.
If substance abuse is also a factor, an intervention specialist or therapist could provide ways to get help for someone with depression effectively.
Treating Co-occurring Depression and Substance Abuse
When depressive and substance abuse occurs, the treatment plan should focus on both disorders simultaneously. Treatment plans should take patient’s depressive symptoms, like lack of motivation, low energy levels, and feelings of hopelessness, into account while addressing their addiction.
In the beginning stages of addiction recovery, residential treatment at an inpatient rehab facility may be recommended if the patient reveals suicidal thoughts or had attempted suicide.
In an inpatient rehab setting, patients go through a detox with round-the-clock supervision from the treatment staff. Once the patient is ready for the next stage of rehab, a higher level of self-determination will be necessary. Treatment specialists will monitor patients closely at each stage of rehab. This will help to ensure their level of treatment is suitable for their psychological state.
During substance abuse treatment, 12-Step programs, individual therapy, group therapy, and family or marriage counseling can provide a foundation for psychological healing.
The Importance of Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Previously, there was considerable debate about whether individuals struggling with addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder should focus on treating the addiction or the mental illness first. Now, we know that substance abuse and mental illness are not necessarily separate objects. Instead, they are deeply weaved psychologically, biologically, and experientially.
In conclusion, specialists have found that the most beneficial results come with comprehensive, combined mental health and addiction treatment that attempts to address all emotional and behavioral suffering simultaneously. Some benefits of dual diagnosis treatment will include:
- Recognizing the source of the patient’s substance use and psychological distress
- Achieving greater insight into the relationship between addiction and mental illness along with the barriers they each present to healing
- Developing the skills to cope with adversity without resorting to drugs and alcohol
- Engaging in evidence-based therapies that meet the patient’s individual needs
- Obtaining suitable, well-tolerated pharmacological therapies that address the symptoms of a mental health disorder while promoting sobriety
By engaging in mental health and addiction treatment led by clinicians who specialize in dual diagnosis care, patients can strengthen their recovery. Also, they can obtain relief from psychological pain, setting them up for long-term behavioral and emotional wellness.
Beginning the Path to Recovery
Depression can produce disastrous effects on an individual’s wellbeing and the lives of their loved ones. Fortunately, the emotions of worthlessness, sadness, and hopelessness that depression creates can be reduced through research-based therapies.
Statistics prove that alcohol and drug addiction are more common among those with depression than in society as a whole. Individuals suffering from both mental illness and substance abuse disorders require dual diagnosis treatment plans. These plans should include their mental health requirements and their need for detox and rehabilitation.
Here at Daylight Recovery Services, we understand that living with a co-occurring disorder can be challenging. Fortunately, treatment is available. Our patients receive treatment that addresses addiction, as well as any co-occurring disorders. Our treatment specialists help patients to work through each disorder and begin walking on the path to healing.
Depression requires long-term treatment, but don’t be discouraged. Most people who suffer from depression feel better with psychotherapy, medication, or both. If you or your loved one could benefit from depression and substance abuse treatment, contact us today. Allow our team to get you the answers you seek.