Depression and alcoholism are not a welcome combination. Sadly, one can easily lead to the other. People experiencing depression look for relief where they can find it, and it sometimes leads them down the road to excessive use of alcohol.
Alcoholism isn’t reflected in just the number of drinks you consume. It’s evaluated by how alcohol affects your life — whether it has become the sole purpose of your existence. If you continue drinking while experiencing the problems that ensue, you could be facing a problem with alcoholism.
Together, depression and alcoholism present great challenges. But they can be overcome, with commitment and the right kind of treatment.
Depression and Alcoholism
Depression is a serious mental disorder that limits your full potential. It’s more than just feeling sad; it’s a weightiness that dramatically alters the course of your life. You might be wondering if what you’re feeling is depression. Here are some of the indicators:
- Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness or guilt
- Lengthy periods of sadness; frequent crying
- Changes in appetite in either direction
- Disruptions in sleep
- Thinking of suicide
- Irritability or anger
- Losing interest in activities
One of the dangerous aspects of depression or other mood disorders is the temptation to self-medicate. Not completely understanding what’s happening, a person may choose to drink alcohol to cope. Taken to an extreme, that can lead to alcoholism. The combination of depression and alcoholism has a special clinical name: dual-diagnosis disorder.
The Dual Diagnosis Problem
Co-occurring disorders, such as depression and alcoholism, are common. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that about 8 million people have co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues.
The dual challenges can come from any direction. Having one or the other makes you more susceptible to dual diagnosis problems. NIDA estimates that about 40 percent of people with substance use disorders struggle with mental health disorders, while about 20 percent of people with mental illness also have a substance abuse challenge.
Depression and alcoholism are just one combination possible for dual-diagnosis disorders. It can involve other mood disorders, such as anxiety, as well as other substance use issues, such as heroin, cocaine, or other drugs.
Treatment Challenges for Depression and Alcoholism
Where doctors once treated depression and alcoholism or other co-occurring disorder as separate illnesses, today they understand the need for an integrated approach. Usually, the process begins with a thorough in-take meeting. Clinical staff needs a complete understanding of your history, including physical information, to be able to recommend a program of recovery.
Next, you may spend some time going through detox. This isn’t an easy process, but to address your challenges, you have to stop drinking. That can create a backlash from withdrawal symptoms. In detox, doctors help you manage your withdrawal symptoms, which can include nausea/vomiting, gastrointestinal upset, and headaches.
Post-detox, expect a period of counseling in both individual and group settings. In therapy, counselors try to help you understand the forces that brought into the situation and how to build coping skills for a happier life based on sobriety. Depression and alcoholism come at you full force; you can battle back by addressing the issues with commitment and strength.
Depression and alcoholism are some of the most common co-occurring disorders. When you’re in the depths of your pain, you reach out to try anything to feel better. Alcohol is not the most productive solution. That’s where we come in. Our clinical team works closely with you and your family to get to the root of your challenges. Our approach is based on evidence-based treatment and proven programs of support, such as our structured sober living program, our individual therapy program, and our drug and alcohol detox center. Call us today at 855.786.1978 for a confidential assessment. Breakaway from the pain.