Two of the most common health conditions in the world, depression, and addiction, often work in cycles together. One may contribute directly to the other, leading back to the first. For example, those suffering from depression have an increased likelihood of substance abuse. Similarly, those with substance use disorder (SUD) are at an increased risk for depression. Breaking this cycle can be challenging. Fortunately, with sufficient medical care, it is possible.
Facing the Reality of this Vicious Cycle
The first step in breaking free from the vicious cycle of depression and SUD is to admit that you have a problem with both conditions. Unfortunately, denial tends to run high among people with depression and addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 60 percent of people with SUD also suffer from mental health disorders. Depression is among the most common mental health conditions, especially as a co-occurring disorder. This crossover may be partly because depression and substance addiction share some risk factors, such as genetics and traumatic experiences.
Seeking Treatment for Dual Diagnosis
When depression and addiction co-occur, this is called a “dual diagnosis.” When someone receives a dual diagnosis, they require a higher level of medical treatment and care. These distinct but intertwined conditions must be treated simultaneously to avoid recurrence or relapse. The first step to effective treatment is an accurate diagnosis to confirm that an individual has both conditions.
Once diagnosed correctly, the individual must work with a team of recovery experts and mental health specialists who can custom-design an individualized treatment plan. Some of the most common therapies for dual diagnosis treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and experiential therapy.
Mental health specialists may also combine these therapies with other holistic methods, such as yoga, art, music therapy, and mindfulness meditation. Holistic therapies like these encourage the mind-body connection. For people who struggle with depression and addiction, it is essential to rebuild the mind-body connection for lasting recovery.
Grounding Yourself in Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a robust rhythm of recovery, can mediate depression and addiction. When individuals can form healthy habits, such as following a schedule or attending support group meetings even if they do not feel like it, long-term healing can occur.
If one experiences heavier bouts of depression, instead of returning to self-medication, one should actively seek help from medical professionals. Although drugs or alcohol may temporarily change how one feels about things and may help one get through the day, they will have a cumulative negative impact on one’s mental and physical health. Do not let these two conditions feed into each other. Instead, one can implement coping strategies and use various resources to continue abstinence and improve depression symptoms.
A lifestyle change can also happen by planning fun activities with family and friends. Engaging in sober activities is a great way to stay on the path of recovery and improve one’s overall mental state. Join a book or hobby club and enjoy doing little things that bring fun and pleasure. A healthy lifestyle cannot happen without these social and enjoyable moments.
Cultivating Social Support
Both depression and addiction can be isolating. As a result, many recovering individuals hesitate to accept help from people close to them. This mentality is hard to break free from, but there are better days on the other side. Individuals struggling with either or both conditions need to break from an isolated lifestyle and actively seek personal connections with others.
There are many practical ways to avoid social isolation. People in recovery should consider finding a few options for emotional support, such as making phone calls to close family and friends. Joining a club or team in an area one enjoys can also be helpful.
Embarking on a Purposeful Journey of Recovery
Because many people suffering from both addiction and depression often feel that life is meaningless, it is important to find a sense of purpose in life. Individuals might try to recall a time in the past when they felt motivated. Maybe it was a certain activity, place, or someone special. Try to find new activities, places, and social contacts that may give one the same sense of purpose.
While in recovery, individuals can invest time in volunteering in community service, which is a great way to find purpose in life. Whether helping out in a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter, individuals can get inspired by the mission and goals of these volunteer organizations.
For some people, inspiration comes from connecting with a spiritual tradition. Those who have been spiritual or religious in the past may benefit from reconnecting with that aspect of themselves. Additionally, those curious about these things may benefit from seeking out religious or spiritual practices.
Dual diagnosis is prevalent among recovering individuals. Among the many co-occurring mental health disorders, depression ranks among the top. How can you recover from both addiction and depression at the same time? How long will this take? What are the risks of relapse for people with dual diagnosis? If you wrestle with any of these questions, Laguna Shores Recovery can help. Not only does our team know dual diagnosis and treatment, but we have also had a lot of success in helping people achieve long-term recovery. We make personalized treatment plans for you so that both conditions can be treated effectively. Call (866) 229-9923 to begin this hopeful journey with us.