Although addiction has a stigma, many people don’t realize that addiction is easy to fall into. It’s easy to develop an addiction because it slowly develops without a clear sign. There’s an innocent growth of dependence to alcohol or drugs that, over time, becomes destructive.
And this is particularly true with depression. The problem with depression is that there is mostly a disconnection with life. There are low levels of energy, little contentment or enjoyment, and very little comfort in life.
Depression often comes with feeling uncomfortable with who you are and how your life is functioning. In fact, depression can hurt. Although depression is a psychological disorder, it can be painful emotionally and psychologically. You might think that depression doesn’t hurt, but it can.
In fact, untreated depression that gets worse and worse can lead to physical pain. It can lead to chronic aches in the body and severe back pain. It’s as though unexpressed emotional pain wants to find its way out and does through the body.
Millions of Americans suffer from depression, keeping them from living fulfilling lives. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 10% of Americans who suffer from some form of a psychiatric illness. With depression in particular, the following groups have the highest risk of developing this mental illness:
- Middle aged adults between the ages of 45 and 64
- African Americans
- Those who cannot work or who are chronically unemployed
- Those who lack private medical insurance or public health benefits
Some Symptoms of Depression Include:
- A depressed mood
- Loss of interest in activities
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal thoughts
- Poor concentration
- Poor memory
- Slow thinking
- Loss of motivation
- Sleep disturbance – insomnia / hypersomnia
- Appetite disturbance – weight loss/gain
How Depression Leads to Drinking and Drug Use
Sometimes depression can lead to drinking or drug use, as a way of escaping the discomfort of life. If you’re not feeling anything at all, which can be common with depression, the use of alcohol and drugs can bring on feelings of happiness, euphoria, enjoyment, albeit temporarily.
With these temporary pleasures might come a slow development of a psychological dependence upon drugs or alcohol. The dissatisfaction with one’s life, the inability to feel anything, the lack of connection with oneself and other symptoms can stimulate the desire to drink or use other drugs. In fact, it might drive an entire addiction.
If this happens, it’s not anyone’s fault. Although it might be hard to admit to struggling with an addiction, you might recognize that you were simply doing what you needed to do to cope with the difficulties of your life. And in many cases, addiction is born out of having poor coping tools.
Fortunately, once you reach this stage, treatment is available for both depression and addiction. In fact, if you find yourself with both depression and an addiction, healing will require treatment of both separately. Depression will require the right medication combined with therapy. With this treatment, your mood can stabilize and you can return to a healthy level of functioning. What’s important to know is that depression is best treated with a combination of both medication and therapy.
Medication alone is not a thorough treatment plan for depression. Simultaneously, you can be treated for an addiction.
Once depression is addressed and your mood is at a level where you can function (often depression affects one’s ability to concentrate which can impair work skills and relationships), then the underlying issues that might have contributed to both the addiction and the mental illness can be addressed.
Although depression can be a slow pull into addiction, both of these disorders don’t have burden your life forever. With treatment, you can experience a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
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