depression and addiction

Depression and Addiction

“My black dog” was a term Winston Churchill used for his dark moods. Churchill was once supposed to have clinical depression by many people. Depression is a very painful disorder that often drives people to self medicate. Whether or not Winston Churchill was depressed, he was a heavy drinker. Fortunately for Churchill, the alcohol did not consume his life. So many people are not so lucky. Not only do people feel depression, but it can cause them to have problems with their day to day lives. Some people with very severe depression might have trouble getting out of bed.


What are the Different Types of Depression?

Three of the most well-known types of depression are:

  • Major Depression

Major Depression is a general depression that lasts most days for two weeks or longer.

  • Situational Depression

Situational Depression is when a person is in a situation that causes them to develop depression. It is also called ‘stress response syndrome’. Situational depression can be caused by things like being stressful or depressing situations like losing your job, a divorce, the death of a loved one, and other such situations.

  • Persistent Depressive Disorders

Persistent Depressive Disorder is when your depression lasts two years or longer.

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a period of major depression that occurs during the winter for most people when there is less sunlight. Unfortunately, addiction does not take very long to develop and if someone turns to substances while going through SAD their addiction will not lift when the seasons change. Medication can help SAD as can light therapy. During light therapy, you sit in front of a special machine called a lightbox for about 15-30 minutes a day.

  •  Psychotic Depression

Psychotic Depression includes the signs of psychosis such as hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. While this sounds like another disorder called schizophrenia, it is medically very different and treatment for psychotic depression is not the same as treatment for schizophrenia. This is one reason that it is important to avoid trying to self diagnose and/or treat your health conditions at home.

  • Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression

Some women can develop major depression in the weeks and months after childbirth. Medications that are used for people who have just given birth are often the same as medications that are useful for people with depression who have not given birth. It is important to be aware that some medications can pass through the mother’s body into her breast milk. These medications might not be right for a woman who wants to breastfeed.

There are plenty of anti-depressants available that will not harm a baby though. Peripartum depression is often complicated by people being in denial that the new mother could be depressed. She is told it is the happiest part of her life and she often feels guilty about the feelings of depression that she cannot control.

  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD occurs in women who are about to have their period and/or who are at the start of their period.

  •  Atypical Depression

Atypical Depression is considered a “specifier”. In other words, it describes a pattern of depressive symptoms. In atypical depression, a positive event like a promotion could temporarily improve your symptoms. Atypical depression can make someone overly sensitive to criticism.


Why Won’t My Family Believe Me When I Say I Have Depression?

One of the reasons that it is so hard for people to get help for their depression is that their loved ones or other support systems like teachers, college professors, family friends other people responsible for your well-being, are often in denial. Here are a few common phrases that people tend to use to soothe themselves.

  • Everyone gets sad sometimes
  • That’s just the way things are
  • You’ve always been like this
  • You’re just going through a rough time

Admitting that someone has depression can be hard. A mother might feel like she has failed as a parent, a significant other might feel like they are not good enough for you, a child might feel like things aren’t normal, and so on down the line.

How Do I Get Help for My Depression?

Your depression is an obstacle for you to overcome, hopefully with the help of your loved ones. It’s important for each one in your life to realize that your depression isn’t necessarily a reflection on you or them. Like an addiction, depression is also a health disorder. It is no different than having cancer or Cerebral Palsy. 

One famous argument is “if they had diabetes, would you just not give them insulin?” To use one health professional’s words, they need to “grow up. Everything isn’t always about them.” Your children will also thank you. The addiction that depression often brings is not good for children, but they will only benefit from seeing you stand up to your problems.

Addiction is thought to be 50% genetic. Much of what children learn, they learn from their parents or other caretakers. Children can learn to overcome obstacles by watching their parents.


What Sort of Addictions do People with Depression Have?

Around one-third of people who have depression also have an alcohol problem. Many people with depression also have a heroin addiction. It is possible to be addicted to multiple substances at once. One of the most troublesome issues with drug abuse is tolerance.


What Is Drug Tolerance?

Tolerance is when a brain rewires itself so that the substances don’t impact it in the same way. For example, when someone is using opioids like heroin, the brain produces more opioid receptors, causing the person to feel less of an effect from the same amount of heroin. Unfortunately, this causes the person to take more and more of the drug to try to overcome the tolerance and feel the pleasurable effects of the drug.


Why Do I Have to take More Drugs to Get the Same Feeling?

Because of tolerance, a person can take more and more of the drug, like cocaine or meth, without overdosing. The problem with at-home detoxifications is that if someone detoxifies, their tolerance lowers and they cannot abuse as much of the drug without overdosing. Many people are not aware of how much of the drug they can take so they overdose because they try to take the amount they used to take.


Does Tolerance Protect My Body?

While tolerance protects your brain to some degree, it cannot do much for it. Continuous heroin use, for example, will eventually cause deterioration of the brain’s white matter, which affects decision-making abilities, ability to regulate behavior, and ability to regulate responses to stressful situations.

The continuous use of drugs does not only affect the brain. Prolonged alcohol use, for example, can cause, alcoholic hepatitis, liver fibrosis, steatosis (fatty liver), stroke, irregular heartbeat, and much more.

These are not the only drugs that affect the body and those are not the only ways in which they affect it.

Do I Have to Tell the Doctors at My Addiction Clinic That I Have Depression?

Any co-occurring disorder, like depression and addiction, cannot be treated separately. Co-occurring disorders are mental health disorders that occur with addiction. Dual diagnosis is the term used when a co-occurring disorder is diagnosed. If someone’s depression is untreated but their addiction disorder is treated they will soon relapse because the reasons that have driven them to addiction have not been solved.

Mental health recovery, like addiction recovery, is a life long journey. There is no quick fix for addiction or depression. Luckily with the help of modern medicine, doctors, and therapists, healthy living is possible.


How Do I Get My Life Back After Attending an Addiction Recovery Clinic?

A good aftercare program is essential for someone recovering from co-occurring disorders, especially depression. Our aftercare at DreamLife Recovery includes:

  • Case management

Case managers are very helpful for people recovering from both depression and addiction. They have many other resources they can provide you with beyond their normal services like counseling and helping people find work.

  • Group meetings

Group therapy is very important as you move on from your addiction clinic. Besides the group meetings we provide for our clients, there are very valuable group meeting that we can help you find in your community. These groups often include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Both AA and NA are nationwide organizations with groups across the United States. That means no matter where you are from in the States, there is likely to be an AA or NA close to you. If there is not and/or you would prefer a different group we will be happy to provide you help and information finding another group.

  • Individual Sessions

During your aftercare program, we will provide you with a therapist who will help you further develop coping skills as well as help you navigate through the world on your new path.

  • Family Sessions

If you would like to include your family in some of your therapy sessions we welcome them. If you don’t want them to come then we will respect that as well.

  • Drug Testing

During our aftercare program, you will be regularly tested for drugs and alcohol.

  •  Organized Social or Recreational Activities

Throughout our aftercare program, we will hold regular social events to help you further bond with others who have also finished DreamLife Recovery’s program. It is important to have a strong support network and having individuals who also face addiction and other mental health disorders can make your journey seem less lonely.

During this time, our clinicians may assist our clients in communicating with employers, the judicial system or family members. When necessary, the clinician can help provide documentation for continued success. We at DreamLife Recovery are here and waiting to help you on your recovery journey. When you are ready, please contact us Or Call us at (844) 402-3592


Article Reviewed by Lidice Morales

Lidice MoralesLidice Morales, an honors graduate from the Kaiser University, has made a name for herself as the Director of Nursing at several behavioral health facilities and as the Director of Operations for Detox MD. Now she is the VP of Operations at DreamLife Recovery. She strives for better patient care through constant self-improvement and furthering her education. Her steadfast work ethic and passion in the field has remained the most important aspect of her professional career; showing dedication to not only the acquisition of new knowledge, but also its mastery. Lidice believes that a professional work atmosphere fosters cohesion and malleability amongst herself and her coworkers; thereby increasing both the level of patient care and quality of life.

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