depression in recovery

Dealing with Depression in Addiction Recovery

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According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 9.5 million adults had both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder (which is the clinical term for addiction).

Among people who struggle with substance abuse and addiction, depression is one of the most common co-occurring mental health disorders. 

To ensure that those who have a substance use disorder and a depressive disorder can live healthier and more satisfying lives, effective treatment must include strategies for managing depression in addiction recovery.

What is Depression?

Depression is a general term for a category of mental health disorders that affect mood and energy levels. Two common types of depression are major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder. These depressive disorders are differentiated primarily by when symptoms occur, how much of a disruption they cause, and how long they last.

People who have major depressive disorder will experience severe symptoms that last for at least two weeks. The symptoms will be intense enough to cause significant difficulties in one or more parts of the person’s life.

Persistent depressive disorder, which used to be called dysthymia, includes symptoms that persist for two years or longer. These symptoms aren’t always severe as the symptoms of major depressive disorder, but a person who has persistent depressive disorder can experience periods of extreme distress. 

Many people who develop depressive disorders are also dealing with addiction. Both depression and addiction are treatable. Proper professional treatment can help people manage the symptoms of depression in addiction recovery.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depressive disorders can affect how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Here are a few common signs and symptoms of depression:

  • Overwhelming sense of sadness
  • Sleeping either way too much (hypersomnia) or hardly at all (insomnia)
  • Pervasive feelings of exhaustion and fatigue
  • Changes in eating habits and resultant weight loss or gain
  • Lack of attention to appearance or personal hygiene
  • Mood swings, including outbursts of anger or crying for no apparent reason
  • Complaints of stomach aches, headaches, and other generalized discomfort
  • Inability to feel joy or experience pleasure
  • Frequent unexplained absences from work or school
  • Diminished interest in activities that were previously very important to the person
  • Withdrawing from friends and family members

Depression can look very different from person to person. If you notice significant changes in someone’s appearance, attitude, and behavior, they may be dealing with depression or another mental health concern.

The Link Between Depression and Substance Abuse

There is a strong link between depression and substance abuse. 

In some cases, people begin to abuse alcohol or other drugs as a way to self-medicate symptoms of undiagnosed depression. In other cases, the negative effects of continued substance abuse can cause a person to develop a depressive disorder.

Whichever concern occurs first, it is important to find a treatment facility that can address both the depression and the addiction.

Co-Occurring Disorders of Depression and Addiction

People who struggle with depression and addiction may also be at increased risk for additional mental health challenges, such as the following:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal ideation

As with the connection between addiction and depression, there is no single cause-effect pattern among depression, addiction, and other co-occurring disorders. 

Sometimes depression or addiction may lead to the onset of one of the concerns listed above. In other cases, the presence of one of these concerns can increase a person’s risk for addiction and/or depression.

Coping Strategies for Depression in Addiction Recovery

Maintaining recovery from addiction can be a difficult challenge. When you’re also trying to manage the symptoms of depression in addiction recovery, this challenge can become much more complex. But when you get the help you need, you can overcome any obstacle that you encounter.

One of the many important lessons you can learn in treatment is how to incorporate healthy coping strategies into your life. 

For example, denial and avoidance are common unhealthy ways of coping with stress and pressure. Substance abuse is a type of avoidance. If you have been trying to numb yourself so you don’t have to deal with your emotional pain, you have been trying to avoid the problem. 

During treatment, you can develop effective strategies for dealing with stress, coping with setbacks, and resolving conflicts. You can also learn how to manage the symptoms of depression or another mental health disorder, so that these concerns don’t undermine your recovery.

Getting treatment doesn’t necessarily make life easier. But treatment can teach you how to deal with life’s difficulties in the healthiest and most productive ways.

Find Treatment for Depression and Addiction

When you are seeking treatment for addiction and depression, it is important to find a provider that can identify and treat the full scope of your needs. If you get help for one condition but not the other, you may be setting yourself up for continued distress. 

In addition to finding a place that can treat both your depression and your addiction, you will also want to identify programs that offer the levels of care that align with your needs and preferences. For example, at Ocean Hills Recovery, your options include the following:

Detox can help you get through withdrawal safely and with minimal discomfort. Then you can transition into our residential program, PHP, or IOP. 

At each of these levels, you can receive treatment for depression and any other co-occurring mental health disorders, while also developing the skills you need to resist relapse and remain in recovery.

Some people step down to our PHP or IOP after completing residential care. Others enter treatment directly at the PHP or IOP level. Our team can work with you to assess your needs and determine which level or levels of care will best prepare you to manage your depression in addiction recovery.

Begin Treatment for Depression & Addiction in California

Ocean Hills Recovery is a trusted source of comprehensive addiction and depression treatment in California. Our center serves adults in the Los Angeles area and throughout Orange County. If you’ve been struggling with depression and addiction, our team can help. Contact us today to learn more.

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