Depression is a mental illness that impacts how the brain functions, which then influences an individual’s mood, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Many individuals struggling with addiction may also be experiencing depression and abusing substances to either numb the depression or experience depression because of substance abuse.
Regardless of how depression originated and what it looks like for you, recovery and healing are possible through evidence-based and holistic treatment.
What Is Depression?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), depression is a disorder of the brain that has many different root causes that arise due to genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. It is something that more than 20 million in the United States experience, and not everyone gets treatment for despite the fact that treatment is essential for recovery.
Depression is more than feeling down in the dumps or having the rainy day blues for a couple of days. It impacts one’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. If you are experiencing depression and correlated symptoms that don’t go away, it is likely interfering with your ability to move through your everyday life and function how you would if depression were not present. Treatment is not only essential for healing, but healing is also possible.
Depression and Addiction
Depression and addiction commonly appear together. When these brain-based illnesses are experienced in tandem, it is called a dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. This goes for other mental illnesses and addiction, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and other mood/personality disorders. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we have specific treatment programs to support you as you heal from both depression and addiction, which incorporate therapies to get to the root causes of addiction and depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression looks different for everyone, but many of the symptoms overall are similar despite everyone’s unique experience navigating depression itself. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Persistent mood of feeling sad, anxious, or “empty”
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Aches and pains that do not have a physical cause or “go away” with medical treatment
- Changes in weight and/or appetite
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feelings of guilt
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Thoughts of death and suicide
Not everyone who experiences depression will experience it in the same way or with the same severity. This is why seeking treatment and support is essential to healing.
Types of Depression
Depression occurs on a continuum. There are several different types that fall under the umbrella of depression itself. According to the National Institue of Mental Health (NIMH), these types include:
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), the most common type of depression and is when an individual experiences a depressed mood and intermittent episodes of depression for two years.
- Postpartum Depression, characterized but feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion following birth and subsides as time goes on.
- Psychotic Depression, occurring when an individual has severe depression and some form of active psychosis.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder, characterized when the onset of depression happens with a shift in weather, most often when less sunlight is available, and lifts when the season changes again.
- Bipolar Depression, which is different from depression, but a form of depression nonetheless as part of bipolar disorder are extremely low moods which are similar to depression.
Treatment for Depression
Although depression can feel like it will last forever when you are in the depths of it, healing is possible, and depression is a highly treatable mental illness. However, depression treatment is not a one-size-fits-all. Just like how the symptoms, types, frequency, and severity of depression vary from person to person — so does which holistic treatment works for you.
Common Treatments for Depression
- One of the most common and gold standard treatments for depression is taking antidepressant medications. However, it’s important to note that taking medication to heal from depression does and should not replace psychotherapy but be used to complement it when both psychotherapy and medication are used together. To see if medication may make sense for you, make sure you talk to your mental health and medical service providers to see.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- One of the most traditional types of therapies used in recovery from depression and addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy identifies dysfunctional ways of thinking, being, and doing that perpetuate cycles of feelings of suffering.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) guides you to develop emotional coping skills and to nurture healthier relationships with yourself and others in your life. This type of therapy operates off the idea that it is a lack of coping skills for emotional distress that leads to troublesome feeling states, and learning to shift the way you relate to emotional distress can increase your emotional well-being.
- Other Psychotherapies
- There are many other psychotherapies that may be used in your holistic, individualized treatment plan in recovery. Some of these therapies may include art therapy, music therapy, movement therapy, or adventure therapy to complement other forms of treatment as part of your healing.
- Although it can feel like the most difficult thing to do in the midst of depression, it’s one of the tools that, over time, can decrease the feelings and symptoms of depression. While it’s not a stand-alone for treatment and healing, exercise and mindful movement is one tool and practice to cultivate in your life to minimize how heavy depression feels.
The first step in experiencing freedom from mental illness and substance abuse is reaching out to a treatment center that supports you in healing. To learn more, call us at (954) 329-1118.