Until recently, mental health and addiction weren’t always in the same category. Addiction seemed to be in a class onto itself because of the personal responsibility that some believed came with addiction. However, addiction is beginning to be seen as an illness, just like psychological illnesses and physical diseases. And more importantly, experts are recognizing that addiction and mental illness are often occurring together.
And the problem is that mental illness can get in the way of healing from addiction. And addiction can get in the way of healing from mental illness. The two of them together are like having a cold while staying in a room infested with germs. A person may have trouble healing from both the addiction and the mental illness if both exists together.
Relationship Between Depression and Addiction
And this is particularly true with depression. Depression is a mood disorder that can impair a person’s level of energy, affect how they feel about themselves, and negatively influence their choices. Plus, addiction can make depression worse while depression can make an addiction worse. And there are so many factors about addiction that can make both illnesses challenging to overcome. For instance,
- Addiction carries a stigma.
- People don’t want to shame the family.
- There might be legal consequences to face.
- There aren’t the financial resources to pay for treatment.
- People don’t have the energy to get treatment.
Furthermore, the denial about addiction can make the depression worse too. There are many reasons why a person will attempt to hide that there is a problem with drugs and alcohol. And this hiding and denial from oneself and others only makes the symptoms of depression worse. However, as you can imagine, hiding your addiction and the depression can ultimately be dangerous, and in some cases, fatal.
Depression can also be fatal. Untreated depression can get worse and worse over time, leading to suicidal thoughts and attempts. One successful suicide attempt means the loss of one’s life.
If you find that you are depressed, it’s important to seek help, even if that means getting someone else to do it for you. You can begin by calling:
- a therapist
- a psychologist
- a psychiatrist
- an addiction treatment center
- a drug rehab facility
- a sober living home
You should know that both the depression and the addiction will need to be treated simultaneously. Expect to be working on both of them at the same time. If you are already in recovery and you are experiencing symptoms of depression, this is another reason to get help. Depression can get in the way of your recovery. You may not have the energy to go to meetings. You may lose the drive to stay committed to your sobriety. You might experience suicidal thoughts.
If you are experiencing depression (or another mental illness) and addiction at the same time, be sure to find treatment that addresses both. It’s important to heal from both illnesses so that they don’t make the other worse.