Co-Occurring Alcoholism & Depression
Mental health issues are often a major contributing factor in alcoholism. Recovery from alcohol addiction must incorporate treatments to treat any mental health issues in order to be successful. Depression often occurs with, and can sometimes cause, alcoholism. Addiction treatment facilities can successfully treat clinical depression and alcoholism together while individuals are in alcohol rehab. These mental health professionals are trained in the importance of dual diagnosis when treating individuals suffering from alcoholism.
Self-Medicating Depression with Alcohol
Alcohol abuse often stems from underlying mental health issues. Depression and alcoholism often coincide. Depression is more than just feeling sad, it is a persistent mood disorder that clouds the thinking and affects all aspects of daily life. Alcohol itself is a depressant, but people often turn to it to self-medicate their depression.
Alcohol initially increases “feel good” neurotransmitters in the brain. These lead to a feeling of euphoria, increases self-confidence, and lowers inhibitions. For someone suffering from depression, this initial burst of happiness can feel like a cure for their depression, unfortunately, the feeling is short lived. As the body rids itself of the alcohol, depression once again sets in. Not only does the depression return, but it often is made worse after consuming alcohol. When depression returns, alcohol is once again consumed to lessen the effects. This creates a vicious cycle, and over time, the body needs alcohol just to function.
Depression is made worse by alcohol, especially when used on a daily basis as a substitute for therapy and medication. There is a high risk of suicide for people suffering from alcoholism for this very reason. When alcohol has been used to self-medicate for depression, the underlying depression must be addressed when an individual seeks treatment.
Dual Diagnosis in Alcohol Treatment
Mental health disorders, like depression, are major causative factors for alcoholism. When individuals seek help for their alcoholism, it cannot be treated successfully without addressing the cause. If only the alcoholism symptoms are addressed, the chances of relapse are greatly increased. Depression is an insidious mental health issue, but it can be treated while individuals are in recovery from alcoholism.
For individuals who suffer from depression, the alcohol detox process typically causes major depressive episodes. This is because the body has become physically dependent on alcohol in order to feel normal. During the detox process, it is important to have mental health professionals involved to address the underlying depression. Medications used to treat depression may take 2 to 3 weeks to begin working, so it important for individuals to get evaluated right away. There are also medications that can help ease the alcohol detox process while the long-term depression medications begin to work.
Medications are an important part of treating depression, but therapy needs to be incorporated as well. Drug rehab facilities use different forms of therapy to help those in recovery from alcoholism and to treat underlying mental health disorders like depression. Group therapy is useful for individuals in treatment. Talking through how the person is feeling and coping with removing alcohol from their life with other people going through similar experiences is helpful. One-on-one counseling with a licensed professional is an important tool to fight depression and alcoholism. Once a person successfully removes alcohol from their life, they have to use different coping strategies for dealing with symptoms of their depression other than alcohol. Stressors, like starting a new job and other life changes, can contribute to depression. Counseling can help clients incorporate new ways of thinking to combat depression.
The Key To Successful Recovery
Drug rehab facilities help clients overcome their abuse of alcohol while also treating and managing the symptoms of depression. When the underlying mental health issue is treated in conjunction with recovery, the chances of meaningful, lifelong recovery from alcohol addiction are greatly increased. Depression and alcoholism are co-occurring conditions in a significant portion of the population and need to be treated together to achieve the goal of sobriety.