Addiction and Depression: What’s the Connection and How Do I Get Help?

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Addiction and depression are often closely linked, and it can be hard to know how to get help for both. People who are addicted to substances are at an increased risk of becoming depressed and depressed individuals have a greater chance of developing substance use disorders. Understanding the relationship between these two conditions and how one impacts the other in your lived experience can help you find the right kind of care. Getting the help you need for these two conditions may not be as easy as simply staying away from drugs or alcohol; it’s possible you or your loved one might need comprehensive dual-diagnosis care to treat both conditions simultaneously so you can stop one from making the other worse.

How Addiction and Depression Affect Your Brain

Both depression and addiction involve the chemical dopamine, which is essential to feeling happy. Simply put, when you suffer with both these conditions, your brain is depleted of the happiness it needs in order for you to thrive. in these cases, depression can lead to substance use and vice versa.  Treatment plans for addiction and depression will vary, based on each person’s individual care needs, but there are multiple interventions available, including group and individualized counseling, medicines and different types of behavioral therapy. Sometimes, a combination of therapies is recommended to treat your condition. This often means meeting regularly with a counselor for private sessions and with a group of hand-selected individuals similar to yourself so that everyone gets along. Additionally, you may be prescribed medication by a licensed, trained, medical doctor or psychiatrist in conjunction with therapy.

How Addiction and Depression Affect Each Other

Addiction and depression commonly  go hand-in-hand; with one often causing or affecting the other. Why is this so? According to MedlinePlus, addiction and substance use can exacerbate a mental health condition, intensifying symptoms. For example, if you are depressed, you may try to self-medicate with alcohol or another drug. This can lead to further problems down the road, as you are likely to develop an addiction. This will result in major issues in personal and professional areas and overall functioning and productivity – which will lead to more severe symptoms.

Likewise, if you have a substance use disorder and choose to ignore it, you are likely to fall into a deep depression. Substance use disorder and mental health conditions share certain risk factors, such as exposure to trauma, family history of mental illness and substance use disorders and stress. Whether you have a genetic predisposition (if someone in your family suffers or has suffered with substance abuse and/or other mental health conditions) or not, it is wise to confront your problem immediately before it becomes more severe.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment for Addiction and Depression

As many as 9.5 million adults in America have a dual diagnosis – meaning that they have both a mental health condition and a substance use disorder. Among these individuals, only 7.4 percent get the help that they need. Therapeutic techniques that are helpful to treat someone with a dual-diagnosis issue include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on replacing cognitive distortions – an irrational and negative thought pattern common in depression. Dialectical behavioral therapy is a form of CBT that focuses on learning coping mechanisms that address addiction and mental health issues.

Not all modes of counseling are covered by insurance, so be sure to inquire about this because you may have to pay in cash if it is not. Some places offer sliding scale fees to allow payment based on income so that it is affordable to everyone. Cognitive behavioral therapy is typically paid for by health insurance, as it is currently a primary technique to treat depression, and is scientifically-proven to be most effective (American Psychological Association).

Managing Multiple Mental Health Issues and Addiction

A term similar to dual-diagnosis disorder you may have heard of is comorbidity – which is more general and refers to having multiple psychological diagnoses at a time. A substance use disorder or addiction problem does not have to be one of the conditions. This can refer to, for example, someone with bipolar disorder and anxiety and is not the same as having a dual-diagnosis disorder. (National Institute on Drug Abuse). It is possible, however, to have more than one psychiatric condition and a substance use disorder. You will find out your diagnoses after you participate in your psychological evaluation. This will occur during your introduction to treatment and assists both you and your provider to recognize the issues that need to be addressed as well as the best ways in which to do so.

Resources to Manage Addiction and Mental Illness

Getting help to address your symptoms of addiction and depression may be a difficult step to take but is necessary if you want to live a healthy and productive life. You may decide to see an addiction counselor, who are mental health providers that specialize in substance use disorders. You can choose to participate in individual and/or group therapy. If your addiction and depression have reached a certain point to where you are really struggling, it is preferential to visit a treatment center. If you are having an emergency, dial 911. There are also toll-free hotlines that refer you to treatment options that will be most beneficial to you. You may contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline by dialing 1-800-950-NAMI. If you are in crisis and need to speak with someone immediately and it is not a medical emergency, you may also text the name “NAMI” to 741741. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 and can be reached by contacting 1-800-273-8255 from the United States.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment at Recovery Unplugged

If you or someone you care about is struggling with co-occurring addiction and mental illness, you don’t have to spend another second battling it alone. Recovery Unplugged is ready to help you reclaim your peace of mind and mental health. We offer compassionate and effective dual-diagnosis treatment in Nashville, Florida, Austin and Northern Virginia and are in-network with most major insurance companies to make care more accessible. Don’t wait another second to get help. Call us today to start your treatment.

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