How Does Depression Lead to Substance Addiction?

How Does Depression Lead to Substance Addiction?

Depression is a genuine condition, and it can be difficult and painful to live with. When it leads to substance addiction, depression hurts more. Research shows that the complex co-morbidity of depression and addiction is prevalent and tends to worsen each other in an ever-tightening spiral. Luckily, depression and addiction are treatable if you find a team of experts to work with.

Why Is Depression With Addiction So Common?

It is common to see depression, and addiction co-occur because they share similar risk factors. These risk factors include genetics, family history, low self-esteem, trauma, environment, and more. For example, families with people who abuse substances are more likely to have individuals who develop depressive disorders, and vice versa. Similarly, depression is a risk factor for addiction, and addiction is a risk factor for all mental illnesses, including depression.

Take trauma, another common risk factor, for example. People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop depression and/or substance use disorder (SUD). The latter is usually from attempts to self-medicate. Substance withdrawal may also result in depressive disorders and other symptoms such as poor concentration, insomnia, and agitation. 

During an initial screening and assessment, health professionals may consider important topics such as trauma and family history. Many people who experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) may not realize that these sources of traumatic stress are still following them. This is mainly because trauma changes the chemical structures in the brain, which affects how a person processes emotions and implements self-control.

How Can You Diagnose Both Conditions Accurately?

Because depression and substance addiction can be each other’s cause and effect, it can be challenging to separate the two and get an accurate diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders require a high level of expertise known as dual diagnosis treatment. In this scenario, health professionals use screening tools to evaluate the presence of two conditions and their respective symptoms and severity.

Dual diagnosis is common as SUD and mental illness involve similar brain regions. A comprehensive assessment will list all the distinctive and common areas of both conditions. After a few rounds of questions and assessments about personal history, health professionals can identify the causes of symptoms an individual is experiencing. This assessment will help them custom-design a treatment plan for each client.

Can You Heal From Depression and Addiction on Your Own?

Healing from depression or SUD is possible. However, when there is a pattern of each condition worsening the other, it isn’t easy to heal on one’s own. Most people need specialized dual diagnosis treatment.

Many people avoid seeking professional treatment due to stigma or ignorance about the process. Even if a person achieves early sobriety from substance addiction, the onset of more depressive episodes may trigger a relapse. Similarly, if someone starts down the path of recovery from depression but does not deal with their substance use habits, depression symptoms can come back in full force without warning.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see that treatment must focus on both disorders simultaneously. Treating one without the other does not produce lasting recovery from either.

How Can Depression and Addiction Be Treated Simultaneously?

After the initial screening for dual diagnosis, recovering individuals will go through detox. Then, health professionals will provide an integrated treatment plan to ensure health outcomes. 
These include abstinence, improved emotional health, mental health, better cognitive abilities, improved relationships, financial and legal security, and a higher quality of life.

These goals guide a team of experts to provide a wide range of methods. Addiction recovery experts and mental health experts need to work collaboratively. They must integrate both traditional and complementary therapies. A typical set of treatment modalities may include one-on-one cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), 12-Step group therapy, experiential therapy, creative therapies, life skills lessons, and family therapy.

Is There Hope for People With Dual Diagnoses?

Because both depression and substance addiction are chronic illnesses that affect the brain, they never truly go away, though they can be treated. There have been proven and tested treatment methods for brain healing. Using such methods, individuals can manage their conditions well.

Many people harbor misconceptions about the use of medications when treating dual diagnosis. Some think that medical providers prescribe replacement drugs. There are safe, FDA-approved, nonaddictive antidepressants.

Apart from traditional therapies such as CBT and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), holistic methods such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and adventure therapy are highly effective in treating mood disorders while supporting sobriety maintenance.  

How to Practice Self-Care in Recovery

Effective self-care begins with increased positive self-awareness. Many people with depression struggle with negative self-talk. They do have a kind of self-awareness, but it is distorted. Healthy self-awareness allows individuals to objectively observe how the condition of depression affects them and plays into their SUD.

To increase this healthy type of self-awareness, individuals can integrate a few methods. Take gratitude journaling, for example. By keeping a few items to give thanks for each day, they will focus their attention on the positives in life. Another method to increase self-awareness while supporting the brain to heal is through mindfulness meditation. By practicing deep breathing techniques, for example, individuals can gain more connection with a peaceful mind.

When you have depression, it’s all too easy to try to suppress symptoms by turning to addictive substances. Similarly, if you abuse drugs or alcohol, you may be at high risk for developing depression. If you are experiencing chronic depression or a mental health crisis related to substance dependency, Laguna Shores Recovery can help you recover. We offer a wide range of services, including detox, psychotherapy, and 12-Step groups. Our team of experts is trauma-informed, inclusive, and compassionate. We embrace an integrated approach to custom-design an individualized treatment plan so that your unique needs and history can be addressed. You do not have to struggle alone. Act now and call us today at (866) 774-1532.