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Depression and Alcoholism 26 May 2017

Depression and Alcoholism

It is statistically proven that depression rates are higher among people who suffer from alcoholism and addiction. So much so, in fact, that there are entire treatment centers and rehabilitation facilities that are geared specifically towards people who suffer from a dual diagnosis, specifically depression and anxiety. One of the important but overlooked aspects of depression is identifying when it is actually real. Everyone has bad days sometimes, and sometimes people even have bad weeks or a bad month. However, real depression is defined by it’s outlasting and debilitating nature on the sufferer. It can be so intense sometimes that it can drive people to extreme lengths. For those of us who suffer from addiction as well, depression can be an extremely good reason to enable our continued drug and alcohol abuse.

Statistics

According to facts gathered by the Montgomery County, PA website of emergency services, there is a very high correlation between depression and symptoms of alcoholism and addiction.

  • The Journal of Clinical Medicine reports that one in three adults who struggle with alcohol or drug abuse also suffer from depression.
  • Alcohol is involved in over a quarter of all suicides in the U.S.
  • Suicide is 120 times more prevalent among adult alcoholics than the rest of the general population.
  • Alcohol abusers have higher rates of both attempted and completed suicide than non-abusers.
  • More than one-third of suicide victims used alcohol just before their death.

Many users find that using drugs and alcohol is, for a period of time, a suitable way to calm and quiet those racing thoughts or depressed states. However, sooner or later, the drugs and alcohol will stop working, and this is the time that many people will start to consider suicide and other alternatives to combat their depression.

Different Levels of Depression

It has become extremely common in our society today for people, alcoholic/addict or not, to struggle with depression. All the while, it has become a pretty frequent lighthearted and comical topic for teens and adults through memes and GIFs on social media. This does not downplay the severity of the disorder, as it has been shown that Major Depressive Disorder has shown no real signs of slowing down.

While many people online can joke about their depressed state, research has shown that there are multiple different types and levels of depression. For example:

  • Persistent depressive disorder – a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. People suffering from PDD may have episodes of major depression, followed by periods of less severe symptoms, but these symptoms must last at least 2 years to be PDD.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder – usually brought on during the winter months, this level of depression occurs when there is less sunlight and a person suffers from a lack of vitamin D. They can experience depressed symptoms such as weight gain, loss of sleep, and will subside when spring comes.
  • Bipolar Disorder – Although bipolar is different from depression, the low mood swings that someone with bipolar will experience will often closely resemble depression.

Prescription companies seem to be coming out with new medications every few months to help sufferers “get back to their lives again”. However, for those of us who also suffer from addiction, this can be a dangerous road to trek.

depressed man walking alone

The following are some of the most common symptoms and side effects of depression:

  • Feelings of Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Tearfulness
  • Aches and Pains
  • Loss of Appetite/Weight Gain
  • Drastically altered sleep schedule
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Suicidal thoughts

The Dangers of Depression and Addiction

For those addicts and alcoholics who suffer from a dual diagnosis with depression, treatment and maintenance can be a slippery slope if we are not fully aware of our limitations with medications. Many people who find that they now suffer from pill addictions admit that their addiction was often fueled by the introduction of psychoactive medications in their teenage years due to a diagnosis of depression, ADHD, anxiety, etc.

Not to mention, many of the prescription medications that are administered for people who suffer from mental disorders come with a warning label about addiction. For example, it is widely known that Xanax and Klonopin are extremely addictive, despite their being readily prescribed to children and adults of all ages.

Also, there are many medications that can be extremely dangerous for people to stop taking on their own. My own mother has taken Prozac, non-addictively, for a few years, and she reports experiencing withdrawal like symptoms when she stops taking it. She says while it does help her depression, she finds that it really only helps because she can’t feel anything at all, happy or sad.

For those of us who are trying to maintain and nurture a healthy sober life, adding depression into the mix, or any other mental disorder for that matter, can really throw flies into the ointment if we aren’t aware of how these symptoms will affect us.

By this I mean, for people who are new to recovery, it will probably take a few months and a close eye to be able to distinguish their changes in mood from their sobering up process to their actual depression. However, after we spend some time in the program and work the 12 steps of our choosing, we can usually begin to learn how to identify situations that we can actually change, in comparison to emotions that we cannot.

This is a hugely beneficial aspect of becoming a sober alcoholic or addict through working a program. While the chemistry in our brain will probably present us with roadblocks and milestones, we will be taught tools on how to combat these feelings, rather than allowing them to disable us.

Freedom From Addiction

If you have found yourself or a loved one suffering from alcoholism or addiction, you are not alone! If you are ready to change your life and live free of addiction, then Holistic Recovery Centers can help. We give you the jump start to recovery you need. Our holistic program is unique in that it doesn’t just treat the addiction, it treats the whole person. For more information on our program, call 1-877-723-7117 today.