It’s very common during the withdrawal phase of early recovery to feel uncomfortable symptoms. As your body gets used to the absence of a substance, it’s likely going to wiggle and squirm for a period of time. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms are:
- Mood swings
- Variable energy
- Low enthusiasm
- Variable concentration
- Disturbed sleep
Feelings During Recovery
Yet, even after your initial period of withdrawal, you may experience a wide range of moods. And for those who feel depressed frequently during recovery, this can turn dangerous. Untreated depression only gets worse. It can lead to feelings of suicide, and it’s possible that an attempt to suicide might be successful, leading to death.
In fact, there are a number of cases in which depression played a significant role in one’s addiction and overall mental stability. This was true for the comedian Robin Williams who took his life in 2014 and who struggled with depression for most of his adult life.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), it’s common for those with addiction to also have a psychological illness. In fact, about 60% of those who have an addiction also have a mental illness of some kind. Often, it’s unclear which came first – the addiction or the mental illness. However, regardless, it’s necessary that both get treated.
When someone is affected by both, each can make the other worse. For instance, depression in someone can lead to more substance use and more substance use can exacerbate the depression. If this person were to get treatment, it would be important that both the depression and the addiction be treated separately. Sadly, many individuals who are diagnosed with an addiction do not get assessed and therefore do not get treated for their mental illness. And untreated psychological illness is often a major contributor to chronic relapse.
For this reason, if you experience depression during your recovery, the first step to take is to contact a mental health professional. As with addiction, there is a stigma with depression and so it can be challenging to admit that this may be a problem. But because of the dangers of untreated depression, it’s necessary to speak to a professional about it.
Even if you’ve already been diagnosed and treated for depression, it’s important to visit a therapist or psychiatrist to tend to your current symptoms.
Taking Care of Yourself
At the same time, if you know that your depression is not severe and does not warrant a visit to the psychiatrist, you may simply need some tips to help lift your spirits. One of the primary ways to work your way out of feeling low or down in the dumps is to take very good care of yourself. Spend an entire day loving yourself. Part of being in drug addiction treatment is learning how to love yourself. And learning how to love yourself is learning how to take good care of your body, heart, and mind.
- Eat healthy
- Get medical care if needed
- Take some time off when needed
- Get a massage
- Dance, swim, walk, run, sing or do a physical activity that is fun
- Take time to be sexual with your partner
- Take a nap
- Wear clothes you like
- Take a vacation
- Take a day trip somewhere
- Make time for self-reflection
- Schedule a therapy session
- Write in a journal
- Read literature that is unrelated to work
- Do something in which you are not an expert
- Decrease stress in your life
- Spend time with others whose company you enjoy
- Stay in contact with important people in your life
- Give yourself affirmations and praise yourself
- Love yourself
- Reread a favorite books and watch your favorite movies again
- Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships, places and seek them out
- Allow yourself to cry
- Find things that make you laugh
- Make time for spiritual reflection
- Spend time in nature
These are suggestions to help shift a low mood you might experience during recovery. However, as mentioned earlier, if you haven’t already seen a mental health professional, it’s always essential to have your psychological health assessed.