Depression & Addiction

Depression isn’t an easy thing to talk about. There are so many opinions on the issue, ranging from informed and knowledge-based to limited and prejudiced, that most people (affected or otherwise) would rather just keep to themselves.

Everybody has bad days”, some say, “I ‘get depressed’ all the time”. And it’s true, most people experience highs and lows throughout any given day. But is it really depression that they’re suffering from? And what’s more, are they on firm ground to offer insights and suggestions to others?

Clinical Depression: The Facts

While it’s true that most people experience sadness, grief, irritability and frustration, those upheavals often come and go in reasonable, ordinary waves and can be mitigated or remedied by participating in the things that make us happy… that take our mind off the problem… that get us focused again.

Clinical depression is something else. For true sufferers, the lows don’t just shift and pass away. Depression – true depression – is a serious mental disability with serious consequences.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), clinical depression lasts for at least two weeks and interferes with work, social life, relationships, and other vital life functions.

Depressed individuals may experience five (or more) of the following symptoms daily:

  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of appetite/weight
  • Trouble sleeping (too much or too little)
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Tearfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite/weight
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideations
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Irritability

Depression often manifests as feelings of sadness, hopelessness and instances of low energy or loss of interest. Some people, however, experience depression as anger, irritability or even hostility. Regardless of how the symptoms manifest, it’s important that friends and loved ones recognize depression as a mental condition that’s fundamentally different from the sufferer’s usual emotional state.

It’s Not Uncommon

Depression touches millions of Americans every day, preventing them from leading happy, normal lives. The CDC, or, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates that at least 10% of the American population actively suffers from depression. The highest risk groups include:

  • Females
  • African Americans and Hispanics
  • Middle-aged adults between 45 and 64
  • People who are out of work or chronically unemployed
  • People who lack medical insurance or health benefits

A Gateway to Addiction

Depression often leads individuals into drug and alcohol use and abuse. It’s not difficult to see why. Many people who experience feelings of depression or anxiety turn to alcohol and drugs to escape those negative emotional patterns, while those who are clinically depressed will remain “low” – or even exacerbate feelings of depression – if they don’t seek treatment. What’s more, if they abuse addictive drugs on a regular basis, evidence suggest that they will soon transition into full-blown chronic addiction.

Co-Occurring Disorders

When addiction is co-occurring with depression (what is sometimes called dual-diagnosis), it becomes more challenging to assess, address and treat. Each disorder tends to intensify the symptoms of the other, and both are characterized by altered perceptions of reality which tend to push people away from seeking comprehensive care.

Getting Help

There is a high level of complexity and sophistication involved in treating co-occurring disorders. Evidence abundantly confirms that individuals with co-occurring disorders don’t receive the care they need in a traditional, one-dimensional rehabilitation program. Only programs equipped with the right tools, insights, skills and environments will be able to attend to suffering individuals with clarity, compassion, precision and effectiveness.

These are called integrated programs, and maintain high standards of clinical quality. Integrated treatment plans include specific goals, such as:

  • Helping patients understand the nature of clinical depression
  • Educating patients on the possibility of true recovery
  • Motivating patients to make significant life changes
  • Equipping patients with practical skills for managing negative thoughts
  • Aiding patients in identifying and changing addictive behavior patterns

The Right Programs

Our Pennsylvania drug rehab centers offer integrated programs for individuals struggling with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders, like clinical depression. Serving clients from around the country, our treatment plans are tailored to the unique needs of each individual, and create real opportunities for whole healing.