Social Anxiety and Alcoholism

Social anxiety and alcoholism

Why Do I Drink When I’m Anxious?

It is no secret that millions of Americans struggle to control excessive use of alcohol. In fact, the CDC estimates that around 16% of the US population may abuse alcohol at any given time. People drink for a variety of different reasons. Some find that alcohol provides a calming effect after a long day of work. Others may drink at social functions, such as parties or family reunions. Over the past few decades, doctors have found increasing links between alcoholism and other conditions, such as social anxiety. Here, we will explore some common questions around alcoholism, including:

  • How does alcohol cause addiction?
  • Is social anxiety linked to alcoholism?
  • How can I find treatment?

How Does Alcohol Cause Addiction?

Like many other drugs, alcohol alters the way the body functions. When a person drinks for the first time, the brain sends out pleasure/reward signals. This is the “buzzed” feeling people talk about. However, over time alcohol can hijack the brain’s normal functions, making the brain depend on alcohol to function. Instead of sending out pleasure signals, the brain will start to send out distress signals for lack of use. Withdrawal manifests in physical symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety/depression
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Fatigue/insomnia 
  • Fever

Some of the common warning signs of Alcohol use disorder (AUD) include:

  • Inability to control drinking
  • Drinking interferes with work or family life
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or obligations
  • Continuing to drink even if advised not to by a physician
  • Increased feelings of depression

Social Anxiety and AUD

Social anxiety disorder is essentially a fear of public places or situations. For some people, this can be a fear of an activity like eating or speaking in public. For others, simply being in a public setting can cause anxiety. Anywhere from 2 to13 percent of the US population is estimated to live with a social anxiety disorder. Of this number, approximately 20 percent also live with AUD. Sadly, for many of these patients this social anxiety disorder has gone undiagnosed.

Drinking, especially in public settings, can become a form of self-medication for patients with social anxiety. This means that the patient only knows that they feel anxious in public, and drinking can calm that feeling. These patients may run a greater risk of developing AUD than others. This can occur for two reasons. First, people who are unknowingly self-medicating may develop addiction faster. If alcohol is the one substance that makes them feel better, it becomes the go-to problem solver. Second, patients with mental conditions like social anxiety may be genetically vulnerable to forming addiction. Research on this topic is still new. However, some scientists believe that the same genes that cause certain mental conditions also play a role in addiction. If this is true, it is no wonder that patients with social anxiety are particularly vulnerable to AUD.

How Can I Find Treatment?

If you or a loved one is currently living with these conditions and looking for treatment, congratulations! Both AUD and social anxiety disorder are medical conditions, not moral failures. It is not your fault that you are living with these conditions, and programs like ours are well equipped to help. Generally speaking, most recovery programs involve a medically supervised detox followed by long term treatment. Let’s look at how the process typically works.

Detox

Before long term treatment can begin in full, you must first let your body flush out alcohol from your system. This process is called detoxification, or detox. Depending on your needs, this can either be an outpatient process, or inpatient at a specialty detox center. Medical teams will monitor vitals and give you medication as needed to control withdrawal symptoms. This will help you stay comfortable and safe as your body adjusts. This process usually takes 1-2 weeks.

Treatment

Your next step will be treatment in either a partial hospitalization (PHP) or intensive outpatient (IOP) program. Here, you will continue to be monitored physically by qualified medical staff. Most of your day will be spent in individual and group therapy. Therapy helps you learn to identify use triggers and develop coping strategies. Therapists can also work with you to address social anxiety, and learn healthy ways to handle public settings. You will spend evenings in a sober living house. Sober living offers all of the comforts of home, without the added stress of avoiding alcohol use.

Recovery in Tune Can Help

If you are ready to take the first step, please contact us today to get started. We accept most major insurance plans. Let us help you live the fulfilling life you deserve!

5 Methods Used in Mental Health Treatment

Mental health treatment helps

What Kinds of Methods Are Used In Mental Health Treatment?

In the post-pandemic era, mental health treatment has become paramount. Some methods of mental health treatment help us recover from mental illness and injury. But other methods work a bit more proactively. If we maintain what we achieve in mental health treatment, we can protect ourselves from future strain. Different mental health treatment options provide various results. Each person needs a specific form of treatment to help them.

Recovery In Tune shall explore the following topics:

  • The importance of mental health treatment options
  • Some examples of mental health treatment
  • When a person should seek mental wellness treatment
  • Benefits of proper mental wellness
  • How to find mental health treatment for yourself or someone else

The Importance of Mental Health Treatment Options

Socially, we treat the mind and body differently. Picture a person in a car accident. Conventional wisdom tells that person to get medical help. They need to be triaged. A doctor needs to check them for injuries and take action. This person might need surgery, medication, and a cast.

Nobody demeans such a person. There’s no stigma for physical injuries such as these. No one would say, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” Or, “This is all in your head.” But it’s not the same with the mind. Mental illnesses do have a stigma. People who suffer from mental ailments or injuries might feel shame about their predicament. Emotions like this can prevent people from seeking mental health treatment.

Some Examples of Mental Health Treatment

Refer again to the mind/body analogy. Particular physical symptoms require different kinds of responses. Also, sometimes recovery means rehabilitation. A person might have to relearn to use a specific part of their body. They may have to have help performing simple tasks. We must offer similar treatment to those enduring mental injuries.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) helps us investigate our thoughts and predispositions. With DBT, we learn to dialogue with our thoughts to understand where they come from.  Dialectical behavior therapy highlights interpersonal skills in 4 key areas:

  • Mindfulness: awareness of the content of one’s thinking
  • Distress tolerance: the ability to withstand (or overcome) obstacles in one’s life
  • Emotional regulation: setting a baseline for one’s feelings
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: defining and expressing what one wants and needs

A Note on Trauma

People who suffer from substance abuse tend to also suffer from trauma. Trauma is a certain kind of stressor beyond what a person can process. Traumatic events freeze part of the mind. They leave people with a sense of feeling “stuck” when the event happened. Many feel that they cannot move forward.

Examples of traumatic events include (but are not limited to):

  • Rape/sexual assault
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Violent crimes
  • Natural disasters/accidents
  • Combat

Trauma-Informed Care

Substance abuse treatment must take traumatic events into account. For too long, even the best recovery programs did not incorporate the treatment of trauma. Even treatment methods that address mental health must specifically treat trauma. Trauma-informed care (TIC) exists for that purpose. In TIC, clinicians operate as though clients have endured traumatic events.

If you have suffered a traumatic event, do not feel alone. Please do not isolate yourself. Remember that you have value and worth. No matter what has happened to you, you can find a way forward. Do not allow the actions of others, or the circumstances of life, define you. The more open you become in treatment, the deeper your healing.

MOUD/MAT

People suffering from mental illnesses may also struggle with substance use disorder. Therefore, proper mental health treatment may require dual diagnosis treatment. As an example, consider someone diagnosed with depression who struggles with opioid use disorder (OUD).

Often, people struggling with OUD can receive medication to help with cravings. Opioids relieve pain. One can obtain opioids via a prescription. Or, they might purchase them on the street.

Common opioids include:

  • Heroin
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Opium

A person suffering from OUD can get help. We call this option medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD). You might also see the term medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Medications used in MOUD/MAT include:

  • Suboxone
  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Often, humans take our thoughts for granted. We just about let them take over our minds. With cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), we learn to think about our thoughts. In a way, we audit our thoughts. We examine them for truth and falsehood. In so doing, we can distance our thoughts from our identities. One does not have to allow one’s thoughts to define one.

How To Find Mental Health Treatment For Yourself Or Someone Else

Thank you for reading this far. Consider this an important first step in the road to recovery. Perhaps you came to this page seeking help for yourself. If not you, likely someone you love. Do not fret. Hope exists. Change is possible.

If you or someone you love struggles with a mental illness, call Recovery In Tune today. As an alternative, fill out our contact form.

Are Anti-Depressants Addictive?

A man looking worried.

Are anti-depressants addictive? No, they are not addictive in the sense that drugs such as heroin or alcohol are. People who abuse antidepressants don’t have the same cravings that those other substances produce. They don’t generally have addictive behaviors, euphoria or the same negative consequences of other drugs either.

People can still become physically dependent on antidepressants however. Dependence on antidepressants takes the form of a need to take them or else experience some withdrawal-like effects. Anyone prescribed an antidepressant should always take it exactly as prescribed. If you want to stop taking an anti-depressant for any reason, you must talk to your doctor first.

Antidepressant Dependence or Addiction

What is antidepressant dependence? Are anti-depressants addictive?

Dependence on antidepressants happens when someone takes the medication regularly. When they stop taking these medications, they may go through anti-depressant withdrawal if they suddenly stop.

While antidepressants aren’t addictive in the conventional sense, it is possible to misuse them. There are many environmental, psychosocial and genetic causes for this type of behavior.

 Some symptoms of antidepressant misuse include:

  • No control over your use of these medications
  • Taking antidepressants in a way contrary to prescription
  • Compulsive use of antidepressants
  • Using antidepressants you do not have a prescription for

If you experience more than one of these symptoms, you are probably misusing antidepressants. If you believe you are dependent on these medications, you should speak to a medical professional about them.

Defining Addiction to Antidepressants

Are anti-depressants addictive in the first place? Even though people can’t become addicted to these medications like they could with drugs such as heroin, they can still have a dependence or pattern of misuse.

Someone can have an addiction in the sense that they experience withdrawal symptoms after not using a specific substance or can’t stop using even when they try. If you try to reduce your use of these medications, but experience nausea, stomachaches, or other symptoms, you may have a dependence upon them. Again, you should never cease taking an antidepressant without speaking to your doctor.

Many people think they don’t have an addiction to antidepressants because they don’t feel euphoria. Even though you don’t get a dopamine rush when using a medication, that doesn’t mean your body isn’t dependent upon it.

Some people abuse antidepressants. Some cases even state that people snort these medications. People may do this when they want another drug but can’t get it.

The good news is that most people who take antidepressants benefit from them. They have a better life because of taking these medications. If you have a prescription for antidepressants but feel your body is too reliant on them, talk to your doctor about it. You should never change your medication regimen without a doctor’s advice and counsel.

Antidepressant Overdose Signs

Most of the time, antidepressants are safe. However, some people will overdose on antidepressants. Some of the overdose signs for these medications include:

  • Dizziness
  • Shaking
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Coordination issues
  • Convulsions
  • Irregular heartbeat

If you see someone with these overdose signs, make sure you get them immediate medical attention. Calling 9-1-1 during these situations would be best.

Drug Combinations

There are millions of people who use antidepressants. Most of the time, people take these medications to treat depression. However, there are some other reasons why doctors may prescribe antidepressants, as well.

The problem is that many people who are taking antidepressants use other substances at the same time. One of the common substances people take with these medications is alcohol.

Medical professionals recommend that people who are taking antidepressants don’t drink alcohol. If you already have an addiction to any other drug, you may be more likely to develop an addiction to antidepressants.

Some severe mental and physical health issues that occur when combining antidepressants and other drugs include:

  • Strong sedation
  • Worse anxiety and depression
  • Extremely high blood pressure
  • Worse coordination issues
  • Unconscious
  • Overdose

Some people don’t want to wait to let antidepressants work. Most doctors will tell you it takes 4 to 6 weeks to receive full effects from these medications. It is essential only to take the dose your doctor prescribes. If you are struggling with severe depression and your medication isn’t working yet, talk to your doctor. There may be other treatments that can help in the meantime.

Get Help with Antidepressant Addiction or Dependence

There are millions of people who struggle with depression. Fortunately, antidepressants can help people to manage depression. However, there is also a chance that you will become reliant on antidepressants. If you try to stop taking them, you might experience withdrawal symptoms. If you use antidepressants with alcohol or other drugs, you could experience other complications or physical health problems. You should always be honest with your prescribing physician about any other substances you are using, legal or otherwise.

We hope we have effectively answered the question ‘Are anti-depressants addictive’ and given you some useful information. If you believe you have a problem with drugs or alcohol or someone you love does, we are here. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Recovery in Tune today. We can help treat your addiction and your depression and have you living a better life.

Trauma-Informed Care In Behavioral Health Services

Alcohol Use Disorder | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

What is Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services

To define trauma-informed care (TIC) in behavioral health services, we must first examine trauma.

Life often feels unpleasant. Even unfair. People that we love hurt us. They betray us. They might abuse us. We lose those we care about. To tragic, seemingly random events. Violence reaches out and touches us. Or those close to us.

Put simply: life can leave marks on us. And many of those marks feel like scars. We use the term trauma to describe these sensations. But trauma doesn’t have a simple definition. Even seasoned researchers find it difficult to describe.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What is trauma?

  • What are some causes of trauma?

  • How does trauma affect people?

  • What is trauma-informed care in behavioral health services?

  • How can I receive trauma-informed care?

What is Trauma?

Nailing down an exact definition of trauma proves a difficult task. The American Psychological Association defines trauma as, “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster.” The DSM-V lists diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. It refers to trauma as, “exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.”

The definition of trauma remains in flux. It changes with time. For a comprehensive understanding, consider the work of Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk. His book The Body Keeps The Score provides an excellent framework. In an interview, Dr. Van Der Kolk said that trauma occurred when “something happens to you that is too big for your mind to comprehend.”

Dr. Gabor Maté’s work can also provide further insight into trauma. Particularly how trauma relates to addiction. His book In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts offers incredible insight into both trauma and addiction. In a 2018 lecture, Dr. Maté said, “trauma is what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you.”

What Are Some Causes of Trauma?

Many of the definitions of trauma include examples of traumatic events. Typically, you’ll see topics like:

  • Combat

  • Domestic violence

  • Childhood abuse

  • Rape

  • Terrorism

We can also include things like accidents, injuries, severe health problems, etc. No comprehensive list of traumatic events exists. Furthermore, trauma doesn’t impact everyone the same way. Two people can go through the exact same experience. One might experience symptoms of trauma. And the other may not. But when trauma does affect people, it tends to produce similar symptoms.

How Does Trauma Affect People?

When you experience stress, 3 areas of your brain activate. These are the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. Your amygdala attaches feelings to your memories of events. It also puts meaning to these experiences. Our brains tend to remember bad experiences better than good ones. This represents part of what the amygdala does.

Your hippocampus stores your memories. It also activates when you learn. It helps you recognize patterns. To try and make sense of them. Your prefrontal cortex (PFC) helps guide your behavior. It influences how you speak and act. It helps you respond to what’s happening in the world around you.

Trauma disrupts these 3 parts of the brain. It can create powerful memories. So powerful that a person feels like they are still experiencing a traumatic event. Reliving it right now. In the present. Sometimes trauma manifests as nightmares. People experiencing trauma might express feeling frozen or stuck.

What Is Trauma-Informed Care?

We’ve examined trauma. We’ve learned a bit about how trauma affects people. But you may still have questions. You might wonder why we need trauma-informed care in behavioral health services.

Sometimes people suffer. That’s why they seek help from behavioral health providers. People often experience mental health disorders and substance use disorders (SUD) at the same time. Research calls this comorbidity. Both SUD and mental health disorders have links to trauma.

Sobriety and proper medication can contribute to recovery. But for a person to truly heal, they may need to dig deeper. Trauma-informed care helps with this. Instead of trying to fix a problem, trauma-informed care attempts to help a person.

Elements of Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care (TIC) aims to reduce the likelihood of re-traumatization. It does this by creating an atmosphere of openness. The Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care lists 5 principles of trauma-informed care.

  • Safety

  • Choice

  • Collaboration

  • Trustworthiness

  • Empowerment

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers four assumptions about TIC. It calls them the “Four R’s.” SAMHSA defines trauma as any event that leaves an enduring result on any aspect of a person. They list the Four R’s of trauma-informed care as:

  • Realization about trauma and its impact

  • Recognizing signs of trauma

  • Responding appropriately to trauma

  • Resisting re-traumatization

These principles help guide behavioral health providers. Providers use these principles to create a safe environment for trauma survivors. Without these principles in place, survivors might feel dehumanized. TIC aims to dignify what a person has been through. To treat a person’s experience with respect.

TIC equips behavioral health professionals with sensitivity. It assists them in treating a human being. A person is not a cluster of symptoms. A person isn’t just a disorder either.  They are not addicts. They are flesh and blood human beings. TIC offers a holistic path to healing and recovery.

How Can I Receive Trauma-Informed Care?

You might be a trauma survivor. Or, perhaps you don’t care for that term. You don’t want to feel like you’re labelling yourself.

At Recovery In Tune, we understand that. Our purpose is to listen. Not to label. We have no interest in fitting you into a mold. Rather, we aim to help you address what has happened to you.

Using trauma-informed care best practices, we create a haven for you. Your wellbeing and security are important. You have dignity and worth. Your experiences were real. They matter. And they were not your fault.

If you, or someone that you love, has experienced trauma, don’t wait any longer to seek treatment. If you have questions about trauma-informed care, contact Recovery In Tune now at 1 (844) 7-IN-TUNE.

Anger Management and Addiction

anger management and addiction

Most people struggle with anger. Whether it’s anger that explodes or anger that you stuff. It doesn’t matter. Just about everybody can relate to feeling angry. If you’re in recovery, you’ve noticed a relationship between anger management and addiction. If you’re struggling with anger control, you may likely also struggle with a substance use disorder (SUD).

You may be wondering where the anger begins and the addiction begins. Perhaps you’ve heard of certain drugs that cause anger. Or, you may have begun taking drugs to try and relieve anger. Some antidepressants, though they do not target anger directly, may help you stay calm. You might opt to try Xanax for anger. But some research indicates a correlative relationship between benzos and anger.

In this article, you will learn:

● What is the relationship between anger management and addiction?
● Are there drugs that cause anger?
● What are practical ways to manage anger?

What Is The Relationship Between Anger Management And Addiction?

Uncontrolled anger has a link to the formation of substance use disorders. Consider the role of alcohol in domestic violence. For a person with poor impulse control, alcohol will only make their situation worse. A domestic abuser may experience any number of negative emotions. Drinking may help ease some of those emotions. But alcohol also lowers inhibition, thus keeping the domestic violence cycle turning.

What Is Anger?

Merriam-Webster defines anger as, “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.” You might feel it when someone breaks a commitment. Or misses an appointment. You’re likely to anger when someone betrays you. When someone lies to, or about, you. Or maybe when someone discloses something you told them in confidence.

Symptoms Of Anger

Knowing the emotional and physical symptoms of anger can be very helpful. Pay attention to these symptoms, they’ll come in handy later.

Internal Symptoms

We feel anger internally before we display it externally. It might feel like a clinching or burning sensation in your gut. You might feel it a little higher in your chest. Your thoughts will also offer cues to your anger. You’ll think things like, “How dare they…” or “They won’t get away with this…”

When you’re angry, your mind might bring vows to mind. These are absolute statements. Agreements with yourself that you may not even be aware of. They involve phrases that begin with “always” and “never.” This process happens in fractions of a second. But if you’re mindful, you’ll learn to recognize it.

External Symptoms

Once you’ve stepped into your anger, look for changes in your body. Notice bodily sensations like:

● Sweating, typically on your head, face, and torso
● Narrowed eyebrows
● Lowering or raising your voice
● Racing pulse, or tension in your temples
● Stiffness or rigidness in your hips, back, and neck
● Shaking hands or jaw

Verbal Symptoms

Anger will show up in your speech as well. The tone of your voice may either hush to a whisper or elevate to a yell. You may blame, insult, or even threaten people around you. You might even use curse words or other provocative language. Anger can stimulate salivation, so you will likely foam or froth at the mouth when you speak.

Anger And Addiction

By itself, anger may not cause addiction. But it certainly contributes to it. In his essay On Anger, the Stoic philosopher Seneca said that anger was essentially madness. “You have only to behold the expressions of those possessed by anger to know that they are insane,” Seneca wrote.

Is it any wonder that a person would want relief from this kind of insanity? Some drugs, like antidepressants and benzos, may temporarily offer relief from anger. For a little while, they make us feel a little bit better. Or, at least less bad.

Just feeling angry isn’t wrong. On an emotional level, feeling angry is no different than feeling anything else. But because of its toxicity, we must change the way we think about anger. In recovery, we don’t simply become sober as an end. Sobriety is a means. In this case, a means to understand our anger, process it, and express it in ways that are proactive and helpful. This is how we come to understand the relationship between anger management and addiction.

Are There Drugs That Cause Anger?

Methamphetamines show possible links to violent acts like suicide. Women who consume methamphetamine seem to be at least as violent as their male counterparts. Some case studies indicate that steroid users report feelings of irritability and anger.

An inability to control anger may be a precursor for alcoholism, but this doesn’t mean that alcohol causes a person to become angry. Likewise, cocaine can make symptoms of pre-existing mental illnesses more prevalent. Some of those symptoms include violent acts, whether against self or others.

Evidence appears to suggest a very strong connection between anger and addiction. But no specific drug makes a person angry. Rather, drugs seem to amplify how the person feels already. Addiction makes a bad anger problem into a terrible anger problem.

What Are Practical Ways To Manage Anger?

Now, you know what anger is. You know how to recognize how it feels. And how your body expresses it. You also know how anger alters your speech. You know how addiction and anger relate. With those things in mind, here are 3 practical steps you can implement that will help you better express your anger.

Become Mindful Of Anger

To practice mindfulness means to become aware. To pay attention. To see something in your mind with focus and effort. Meditation can help strengthen this awareness. And awareness works just like a muscle. If you train it, it gets stronger. The more you train your awareness, the better you will be at detecting your anger. The earlier you detect your anger, the quicker you can act to express it healthily.

Label Your Anger

Once you become aware of your anger, call it for what it is. Name it. Even if no one is around, say out loud, “I am angry.” But if others are around, saying this aloud is helpful. Speaking your anger provides clarity for you, and for those around you.

Identify The Reason(s) For Your Anger

Once you’ve said that you’re angry, it’s time to say why. To bring abstract feeling into concrete reality. This will help further clarify why you feel what you feel. Say, “I am angry because of ________.” Don’t judge your reason. But don’t defend it or excuse it either. Just say it. Once you’ve done that, you can then examine your reason(s) for being angry.

Getting Help For Anger Management And Addiction

If you have more questions about getting help for anger management and addiction, call Recovery In Tune now at 1 (844) 7-IN-TUNE.

Alcohol and Major Depressive Disorder

alcohol major depressive disorder

Addiction to alcohol and major depressive disorder are two conditions that have a high likelihood of occurring simultaneously, thus making them a co-occurring disorder. This means that addiction to alcohol and major depression symptoms often appear at the same time. Furthermore, these two conditions are known to exacerbate each other’s negative effects, creating an ever-worsening cycle that can cause serious harm if not properly treated.

However, there is a silver lining: treating one condition can make the other better as well. In other words, if you treat alcohol addiction and see improvements, you will see improvement in the symptoms of depression. Keep in mind that this is not an easy or quick process. In severe cases, treatment can last for months or years.

What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Major depressive disorder is one of the types of depression. It is the most common type of depression in the United States, with an estimated 6.7% of American adults suffering from this condition at any given time. Women are also more prone to suffering from this condition compared to men. Approximately one in every three women will experience major depressive disorder at least once in their lifetime.
People with major depressive disorder experience such severe feelings of depression that they cannot function normally. These feelings can have significant adverse effects on a person’s personal and professional lives. Some people may only experience it once, but most will have several episodes.

How to Spot Alcohol Addiction and Major Depression Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of alcohol addiction include:

• Consuming large amounts of alcohol frequently
• Regular consumption of alcohol, even on a daily basis
• Severe alcohol cravings
• Continued drinking even when experiencing negative health effects
• Consciously hiding alcohol consumption out of guilt or fear of judgment

Symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

• Feelings of melancholy
• Feelings of worthlessness and guilty
• Continuous fatigue
• Lack of energy to perform daily tasks
• Lack of interest in personal relationships
• Lack of interest in work
• Substance addiction, including alcohol
• Suicidal thoughts
If you observe more than a couple of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to seek help right away.

Causes of Major Depressive Disorder

The most difficult thing about finding treatment for alcohol and major depressive symptoms is that they are hard to diagnose. In many cases, the symptoms can overlap and even mask the other. Many people who suffer from major depressive disorder may use alcohol to self-medicate. Those who drink frequently are at greater risk of developing depression, and subsequently increase their alcohol consumption to feel better.
Studies have found that people with a family history of alcohol addiction or major depressive disorder have a higher risk of developing either condition. Those who have suffered trauma or abuse are also more likely to develop this co-occurring disorder.

Can Alcohol Addiction Cause Major Depressive Disorder?

While it has been found either condition can cause the other, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has determined that it is more likely that alcohol addiction can lead to a person developing major depressive disorder. When a person is struggling with alcoholism and fails to cope with their situation, they can develop feelings of depression. They feel weak and inadequate, which leads to more drinking to help manage their negative emotions.

The Relationship between Major Depressive Disorder and Alcohol Addiction

According a study conducted by the University of Otago, addiction to alcohol and major depression symptoms are closely correlated. As many as 40% of alcoholics will develop major depressive disorder. This is likely due to two things: the sedative effects of alcohol and its ease of access. Unlike anti-depressant drugs, people don’t need a prescription to get alcohol. What’s more, alcohol is much cheaper compared to medication.

Drinking alcohol can and does relieve major depressive symptoms, albeit temporarily. However, since the effects of alcohol can wear off quickly, people who use it to self-medicate will need to take it on a regular basis to keep feeling the effects. What’s more, they find that they need to take it in ever-increasing amounts as they develop a stronger tolerance over time. This cycle will likely continue and worsen until treatment is given.

Finding Treatment

The first step in treating addiction to alcohol and major depressive symptoms is consulting a licensed addiction counselor. Neglecting to find proper consultation can lead to a misdiagnosis, or worse, trying to self-diagnose. This problem is likely due to the fact that many people mistakenly feel that having either alcohol addiction or major depressive disorder makes them appear weak and open to ridicule from others. Some researchers even believe that this is the reason why men are less likely to seek treatment compared to women.

Once this co-occurring disorder has been diagnosed by a professional, there are several treatments that can be prescribed, such as:

Medication

Both alcohol and major depressive symptoms usually cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, particularly by decreasing the amount of neurotransmitters. Anti-depressants are usually prescribed to help correct this chemical imbalance and relieve the symptoms of both conditions. In the case of severe alcohol addiction, drugs such as naltrexone, acamprosate, or gabapentin can be prescribed to help curb the craving.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective therapy methods for people with major depressive disorder. CBT helps people identify their triggers and manage their negative thoughts and emotions by modifying their behavior.

Rehabilitation

Many people with alcohol addiction may require rehab to help detox. Detox is a dangerous and long process, especially for those who have suffered from alcohol addiction for a long time. Withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, and should be managed in a controlled environment. However, people with mild alcohol addiction can undergo detox as an outpatient.

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can help by offering group sessions, classes, and call centers. These groups are immensely helpful for people who might not have a strong support system in their private circles.

Getting Help Today

Suffering from alcohol addictions and major depressive symptoms might feel hopeless, but there is always hope! For those who are willing to take that first step, help is available. There are numerous treatment facilities that are able to give the best care possible. Recovery in Tune offers evidence-based treatment for those who are seeking to overcome their co-occurring disorder. Call us for more information, anytime 1-844-7-IN-TUNE

Benefits of Meditation in Recovery

Meditation in Recovery

Meditation has moved out of the spiritual realm and into the medical field. Studies have shown that meditation assists in recovery from illnesses of the mind and the body. It also helps those in recovery from addiction.

How Meditation Promotes Recovery

People battling addiction have far more stress than the average person. Cravings plague us. Resentments gnaw at us. We live in a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Meditation assists with all of these. Clinical investigations show that meditation alone provides the following benefits:

• Stress relief
• Improved emotional awareness
• More control over anxiety
• Identifying addiction triggers
• Greater compassion towards self and others
• Increase in positive neural transmitters
• More flexible thinking and problem-solving
• Promotion of acceptance
• Cultivation of better coping skills

Add meditation with talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise and medication-assisted treatment, and the results are even more profound.

What is Meditation?

In general, meditation is nothing more than training the mind to relax and focus. Then seeing the patterns of the mind from a detached emotional state. It fosters calm and reduces stress by directing thoughts inward or drawing attention to the present moment. Through concentrating on a simple concept, racing thoughts are released. Relaxing physically eliminates strain on the body.

The natural image that occurs when we think of meditation is of a monk sitting in the lotus position, peaceful and tranquil. It conjures images of deep serenity and oneness with the universe. This is only partially true. In fact, there are as many different types of meditation as there are those who practice it.

Types of Meditation

There’s no wrong way to meditate. The methods are easy and require no special training to accomplish.

The most popular types of meditation for recovery are:

Mindfulness Meditation

Typically accomplished by focusing on the breath and merely watching your thoughts and the air as it passes into and out of your body. The goal is to be aware of what you think and how you feel so as to know what thoughts or feelings are troubling you. You detach from these thoughts, and because you are detached you can observe them without allowing them to carry you away. According to scientific research, this style is one of the most useful in addiction recovery.

Mantra Meditation

When picturing a monk sitting serenely in meditation, she or he may be chanting “Om.” This is mantra meditation. A basic word or phrase – called a mantra, taken from the Vedic tradition – is repeated over and over. The goal here is to focus the mind on the word while releasing other thoughts. Transcendental Meditation is one form of mantra meditation.

Relaxation

All meditation involves relaxation, but in this style, the entire goal is to soothe the mind and body by tensing and then relaxing muscles. Start at the feet and strain them, then release. Move up the legs. Then the arms, chest, neck, and face. By doing this, tension releases and the brain focuses on the body instead of stressful thoughts.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Emotions are the focus of loving-kindness making it particularly useful for anyone with resentment or anger. Compassionate thinking and openness toward to love toward one’s self, family and all life is the aim.

Visualization

During visualization, a happy, unworried place is pictured. It allows the person to mentally live in that place and generates the feelings that space creates. Using all five senses helps add texture, which makes the relaxation deeper and the emotions more real.

This list is by no means comprehensive. Not every style is right for every person. Experiment with each, use combinations or blaze a trail to find a new style that allows you to unwind.

The Importance of Treating Co-occurring Disorders

man lies awake in bed unable to sleep due to co-occurring disorders

Co-occurring disorders are psychological conditions that exist in parallel with a substance abuse disorder. This is also sometimes referred to as a dual diagnosis. One example would be a person who is addicted to prescription opiate pain medications but also has Bipolar II disorder. Many people with substance abuse disorders enter treatment completely unaware of their secondary diagnosis. They may know that they have always seemed more anxious than others or struggled to find happiness most of their lives. This is not the same as having a formal diagnosis, however. People with undiagnosed mental illness are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and change the way they feel. (1)

Identifying and treating co-occurring disorders is important for several reasons. Recovery from addiction is a tremendous challenge for most people. When someone has addiction compounded with depression, anxiety, or untreated PTSD it only increases the difficulty of getting and staying sober. Diagnosing and treating the co-occurring psychological issue dramatically improves outcomes for dual diagnosis patients. Relief from the secondary disorder tends to lessen the tendency to self-medicate. It enables the patient to participate more fully in their treatment and focus on the work of recovery. An accurate diagnosis also helps therapists and clinicians devise a targeted treatment plan that best addresses the patient’s needs.

Ideally, a co-occurring disorder will be diagnosed prior to or during drug and alcohol treatment. That way a patient can begin to be treated immediately and observed for results in an inpatient setting. Treating each facet of mental health, in addition to the substance use disorder, leads to patients who are better equipped for early recovery. Conclusive research has shown that dual diagnosis patients who receive treatment for both addiction and the co-occurring disorder are more likely to stay sober for longer periods of time. (2) It is easy to understand why. An untreated co-occurring condition can not only lead someone to self-medicate but make life more difficult and complicated. Any number of situations can arise as a result from failed relationships to lost employment and these stressors can all contribute to the likelihood of relapse.

It is demonstrably true that treating co-occurring disorders improves the quality of life for people suffering from addiction. Practical research has also shown that dual diagnosis treatment measurably improves outcomes for these patients’ months and even years after treatment. The goal of drug and alcohol treatment goes beyond simply separating a person from their substance of choice. It is also about preparing them for a life in recovery which will allow them to become their ‘best self’. Identifying and addressing underlying psychiatric problems goes a long way towards building a robust foundation for recovery. As much of a challenge as recovery can be, we all owe it to ourselves to remove as many obstacles as possible to it. The unquestionable benefits of dual diagnosis treatment are what have led to its popularity and prevalence in the treatment field today. As the field of addiction medicine grows, we can look forward to more innovations along these lines.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction and/or a mental health disorder, please contact us for guidance and information.


Sources
(1) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0890856709630227 (2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5933848/



10 Warning Signs of Bipolar Depression

man gripping his head suffering from bipolar depression

Each of us have changes in our moods. When these changes become so severe that they are affecting our daily living, it is time to ask for help.  Approximately 26% of Americans ages 18 and older, about 1 in 4 adults, suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder. (1)

What is Bipolar Depression?

Bipolar depression is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood from extreme lows to extreme highs.

Some Extreme lows of Bipolar Depression are:

  • Hopelessness– No expectation of future improvement or success
  • Irritability– Disturbed, edgy mood. The onset of becoming angry
  • Fatigue– Feeling exhausted and sleeping excessively
  • Crying– In response to an emotional state.
  • Self-Harm– Cutting yourself, punching things, pulling out your hair, or bruising yourself

Examples of highs or manic symptoms are:

  • Unexplained Hyperactivity– Inability to sit still, being easily distracted, or talking excessively
  • Paranoia– Unwarranted jealousy, mistrust, and defensive attitude in response to perceived criticism.
  • A decreased need for sleep.
  • Impulsive behavior.
  • Participate in risky behaviors without concern for consequences.

Severe forms of bipolar depression are Bipolar I and Bipolar II

Bipolar I is indicated by manic episodes (mania) lasting at least a week and may become psychotic and require hospitalization. These episodes are followed by extreme episodes of depression that lasts weeks.

Bipolar II involves episodes of severe depression. Unlike Bipolar I, it does not present warning signs of mania however, one or more episodes must be experienced in a lifetime. (2)

The first step is to determine if you have bipolar depression is evaluation

Your doctor may do a physical exam and lab tests to identify any medical problems that could be causing your symptoms. The next step is usually an evaluation by a psychiatrist. They will talk to you about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. You may also fill out a psychological self-assessment or questionnaire. With your permission, family members or close friends may be asked to provide information about your symptoms.

Mood charting is also an effective therapeutic tool. You may be asked to keep a daily record of your moods, sleep patterns or other factors that could help with diagnosis and finding the right treatment. Bipolar depression is a lifelong condition. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of bipolar depression are important to manage them.

Treatment options include:

Medications

You may need to start taking medications to balance your moods right away. Bipolar depression often requires lifelong treatment with medications, even during periods when you feel better. People who skip maintenance treatment are at high risk of a relapse of symptoms or having minor mood changes turn into full-blown mania or depression.

Day Treatment

Your doctor may recommend a day treatment program to help you get symptoms under control.

Substance Abuse Treatment

If you have problems with alcohol or drugs, you will need substance abuse treatment as well. Ideally, a dual-diagnosis program equipped to treat co-occurring disorders.

Inpatient or Hospitalization

Your doctor may recommend inpatient care or hospitalization if you are behaving dangerously, you feel suicidal or you become detached from reality (psychotic). An inpatient or partial hospitalization stay can also be helpful if you need to remove yourself from a toxic environment. 

Self-diagnosis is not safe or accurate. Do not be afraid to ask for help.

(1) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/mental-health-disorder-statistics
(2) https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm

When Should You Seek Mental Health Treatment?

grayscale image of woman staring out of a window

The decision to seek help for a mental health issue does not always come naturally. Many people endure needless suffering for months or years even, rather than seek help. The reasons why vary. Some are skeptical about the effectiveness of mental health therapy or concerned about the need for medication. Others see asking for help as a sign of weakness or a lack of discipline. Perhaps we worry about what others might think of us. Sometimes, living with depression or another mental health challenge can become so routine that we end up acclimated to this ‘new normal’. We try to accept things as they are, even though somewhere deep inside we know life can be so much better.

Whatever the reason for not seeking help, it is absolutely crucial that you give yourself a break. Remaining in denial, making excuses or judging yourself harshly probably isn’t the way you would handle a physical health problem. Should we not show ourselves the same kindness when it comes to mental health? It may be helpful to consider one important fact. When it comes to any problem, there is no such thing as ‘too much help’, there is only ‘not enough’.

Reasons Why You May Need Mental Health Treatment

If you’re reading this, chances are that you or someone you care about is facing a mental health challenge. Here are some guidelines to help you decide when you should seek mental health treatment.

You have lost interest in activities you used to enjoy.

This goes beyond simply changing hobbies. If you find it difficult to get pleasure out of life. If you don’t find your mood lifted by music, conversation, movies, food, whatever once brought you happiness. This can be a sign of a deeper issue like depression. Especially if this has been the case for weeks or months or longer.

You are turning to alcohol or drugs to escape feelings.

Do you find yourself uncomfortable in your own skin? Overcome with anxiety, anger or even boredom? Are you regularly seeking relief in alcohol or drugs? Do you drink or use drugs alone? All of these can be signs of an underlying issue and self-medicating with substances will only serve to obfuscate the real problem and move you further away from a solution.

You have experienced a traumatic event(s).

Everyone experiences some trauma in their lives and almost everyone benefits from outside help in overcoming the aftermath. Whether it’s trauma in your distant past or childhood, or something more recent, time alone does not heal all wounds. Processing trauma and learning to move through and beyond it is one of many benefits of mental health treatment. Don’t continue to rely on coping mechanisms that are failing you. There are people who can help.

You have lost someone or something important to you.

Loss is one of the biggest challenges most of us will ever face in our lives. We must be careful not to underestimate the effect it can have. According to the Holmes & Rahe Social Adjustment Scale, the death of a significant other, divorce and separation, incarceration and losing a job all rank at top of the list of significant life stressors.(1) Any significant loss can have a lasting impact that’s often hard to recover from. Mental health treatment can be greatly beneficial in these circumstances.

You are experiencing psychological symptoms that have consequences.

Perhaps you have been experiencing mood swings or lingering anger that is disrupting relationships and causing problems at work. You might be troubled by persistent, unwanted obsessive thoughts. Maybe you have persistent anxiety that is making it difficult for you to function. All of these are good reasons to see professional mental health treatment.

The reasons to see mental health treatment depend on the individual. The constant is that a person is experiencing symptoms or feelings that are impacting their quality of life. The field of mental health treatment has made great advances in recent years and there is less stigma attached to seeking help than ever. The fact is every human being deserves to realize their potential and to enjoy their life. We should try to never allow excuses or pride or worry to come between us and become our best selves. If you want to learn more about mental health treatment options, please call us at (844) 746-8836

(1) https://www.dartmouth.edu/eap/library/lifechangestresstest.pdf