Trying to get a handle on an addiction can feel like the battle of a lifetime—because it is. This struggle can be even more challenging when a mental health disorder exists as well. When depression and addiction are both present, the two conditions have a significant effect on each other. The presence of one condition can actually make the other condition worse, and it’s often difficult to determine which one came first.
If you or a loved one is experiencing these co-occurring disorders, it’s important to choose a high-quality treatment center that addresses both the depression and addiction at the same time. In this article, we’ll explore the link between depression and addiction and discuss the best treatment options.
Understanding Depression and Addiction
Everyone has experienced sadness at some point or even periods of intense grief, but clinical depression is far more than just a case of “the blues.” For people who are diagnosed with depression, their feelings of sadness don’t go away and can prevent them from living a full and productive life.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, clinical depression persists more than two weeks and can impede the ability to hold down a job, maintain relationships and fulfill basic obligations.1 Depression often presents as feelings of despair and a lack of energy, but some people with the condition also experience feelings of irritability and anger.
A Vicious Cycle
There is a clear link between mental health disorders, such as depression, and addiction. These disorders are known to increase the risk of addiction, because using drugs or alcohol is a way to numb painful feelings and block out unpleasant thoughts.
Unfortunately, substance abuse won’t make depression or any other mental health disorder go away. In reality, drug or alcohol abuse is likely to make the condition worse. Over time, a person who continues to engage in substance abuse has a high risk of developing an addiction. Research from the National Alliance of Mental Illness indicates that at least 7.9 million adults in the United States suffer from both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder at the same time.2 That figure represents about a third of the total number of American adults struggling with addiction.
If you’re struggling with depression and addiction, integrated treatment is essential for a successful recovery. Treating one condition at a time is likely to end in relapse, because either the addictive behavior or the depression symptoms are likely to return once you finish treatment for the other condition.
An integrated treatment program will include the counseling, relapse-prevention training and support needed to address both depression and addiction. For some people, antidepressant medication can also play a key role in treating these two conditions, alleviating depression symptoms so you can focus all your energy on recovery.
The connection between depression and addiction is real, but effective help is available for both conditions. An integrated treatment program can help you overcome both disorders simultaneously and turn your life around.