What is Depression?

Feeling sad or depressed occasionally is normal. However, a relentless feeling of intense sadness where one thinks of being helpless is already considered a mood disorder. This is known as a major depressive disorder which can last for two weeks or even months.

What Is the Relationship Between Depression and Substance Abuse?

Depression and substance abuse work in both ways. A substance abuse can slow down brain activity. Alcohol, depressants, and sedatives when abused in the long run, can build tolerance and dependence on the person. Consequently, this leads to induced-depression, lethargy, and suicidal behaviors.

A person diagnosed with a major depressive disorder has a higher risk of abusing substances due to self-medication. The person tends to consume substances that boost euphoric feelings in order to balance the intense feeling of sadness.

An individual suffering from addiction with a dual diagnosis of depression experiences a difficult time balancing one’s mood and behavior. Consequently, the person experiences a constant fluctuation of sadness and mania which can drive substance dependence.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?

It is important to know if a person suffering from addiction has a dual diagnosis so that a separate treatment can be done on the associated disorder. To determine if a person has a substance-induced depression, some of the following symptoms must be present.

  • A relentless feeling of sadness and hopelessness
  • Irregular sleeping habits, insomnia or excessive sleeping habits
  • Extreme sensitivity and irritability
  • Lack of interest and enthusiasm on almost everything
  • Lethargy
  • An abnormal appetite which leads to abrupt weight loss or gain
  • Slower reflexes and mental ability
  • Inability to focus and memory loss
  • Suicidal behaviors
  • The frequent occurrence of anxiety

What Are Some Triggers for Depression?

Triggers are certain events or factors which initiates and exacerbates the symptoms of a mood disorder. To prevent these symptoms from occurring, one must know and avoid its triggers.

Common triggers of depression:

  • Knowing one has a serious illness
  • Abuse of alcohol and substances
  • Negative stress from work and home
  • Being alone or social isolation
  • Death of a family or friend
  • Relationship conflicts and breakups
  • Loss of job and money matters
  • Any life-changing event

How To Manage Depression Triggers?

Effective management strategies for depression triggers is important along with the medications and psychological therapies done by the patient. This is critical as it also serves as a preventive measure for aggravating the symptoms of depression.

Here are some quick tips on how to manage these triggers:

  • Avoid Alcohol And Other Depressants: These things must be avoided for they have a great capacity towards exacerbating depressive symptoms.
  • Maintain A Healthy Diet: This entails the minimal consumption of food with high sugar or carbohydrate content as they spike blood sugar levels.
  • Maintain Open Communication: Talking to your trusted family member or friend enables you to lighten up one’s mood. Likewise, it gives the person more insights and motivation to get better.
  • Enough Amount of Sleep: Depression is often associated with irregular sleeping habits, whether too little or too much sleeping. Getting the right amount of sleep can help a person have a better mood and prevents feelings of irritability.
  • Maintain An Active Lifestyle: This means having enough exercise which can help in relieving stress. This can also serve as a great distraction to avoid boredom. It helps in the release of endorphins which helps a person to feel good and it also helps revitalize one’s spirit.

How Common is Substance Abuse and Alcoholism In People with Depression?

Alcohol use disorder and substance abuse can cause depression after long term dependence. This happens due to the disruption of hormonal balance and the inability of the brain to control behavior.

Depression is just one of the major co-occurring mood disorders with alcoholism and addiction. Below are some statistical data to show the relationship and status of depression and addiction in the United States.

  • Approximately 17.3 million or 7.1 percent of the adult population experience one major depressive episode
  • Individuals ages 18 to 25 years of age show the highest prevalence (13.1 percent) of depression
  • 7.9 million adults in the United States have a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and depression disorder
  • Estimated 27 percent of the general population is suffering from addiction and depressive disorder
  • Around 50 percent of people who committed suicide were suffering from major depressive disorder and alcoholism
  • In a 20.2 million adult population with substance abuse disorder, 50.5 percent of them had a co-occurring depressive disorder.

What Are the Treatments and Therapies for Depression?

People struggling with substance abuse issues who are also diagnosed with depression require a separate treatment for the associated mental disorder. Aside from the drug medications for depression, psychological therapies are incorporated into the treatment program to speed up recovery.

Below are some of the major reasons why psychotherapy is a must for treating a depressive disorder.

  • Helps the patient take control of one’s behavior and mood
  • Provides an in-depth understanding of the things which contribute to a person’s depressive disorder
  • Increase the self-awareness of the patient
  • Helps the patient formulate healthier means of coping with triggers and symptoms

Psychological therapies for depression:

  • Interpersonal Therapy: This therapy helps patients improve social communication skills by teaching them healthier ways of expressing one’s thoughts and emotions.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy: The patient works to reconcile the resistance of self-acceptance and the positive changes to be done. The treatment of the patient under this therapy involves four major steps:
    o Increasing self-awareness of the present situation
    o The patient learns to accept himself and develop healthier strategies to cope with any tragedies in life. These strategies include analysis of the good and bad side of an event, distraction, self-comfort, and thinking of the emotion felt before expressing it.
  • Cognitive Therapy: The therapist will guide the patient in identifying negative thoughts and try to change it into a positive ones.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy emphasizes the role of thoughts in shaping the behavior of a person. The therapist helps the patient identify destructive thoughts that drive depression and the actual habits contributing to it. After, interventions are developed to counter the formation of these destructive thoughts. Positive coping mechanisms are also recommended for the patient to adapt and practice.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy: This therapy engages the patient to recall past traumatic experiences that were not resolved and were possible contributors to the development of depression. While the patient shares one’s past experiences, the therapist looks for patterns that greatly contribute to the current condition of the patient.