Why Is Alcohol So Harmful for Recovery from Depression?

If you struggle with depression, you can take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. According to a study published by the National Institute of Mental Health, depression affects the lives of more than 17.3 million American adults. And globally, the number is much higher, with over 264 million people worldwide admitting to struggling with the same mental health disorder, according to the World Health Organization.

While we are on the topic, it is worth noting that depression can have an overarching impact on one’s life, affecting everything from their career and finances to the relationships that they have with their friends and family. Not surprisingly, many of these same individuals, particularly those who are chronically depressed, will turn to alcohol to self-medicate. However, in doing so, they may very well be worsening their depressive symptoms and increasing their chances of developing a co-occurring disorder.

Why Is Alcohol Harmful for Recovery From Depression?

While consuming small amounts of alcohol on occasion is okay and may even provide a few health benefits, such as a reduced risk of developing diabetes and suffering a stroke or heart attack, excessive alcohol consumption is another matter entirely. The sedative effects of alcohol can provide temporary relief from even deep-seated depression; however, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to addiction and, worse yet, a co-occurring disorder.

For reference, a co-occurring disorder, also known as a dual diagnosis, is a condition whereby an individual is suffering from a mental illness and a comorbid substance use disorder (SUD). As a matter of reference, a study published by the University of Buffalo’s Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions found that about one-third of individuals struggling with major depression also have a problem with alcohol.

What You Should Know About Alcohol and Antidepressant Medication

Studies show that some individuals who are depressed and drink excessively are also taking antidepressants. According to most physicians and mental health experts, such behavior not only makes these medications less effective but also intensifies the depressant effects of alcohol. And studies show that the more depressed an individual feels, the more they tend to drink. Not surprisingly, those who abuse both alcohol and antidepressants often find it difficult to recover from depression.

How the Right Rehab Facility Can Help Individuals Overcome Both Depression and Alcohol Addiction

For those who are struggling with a co-occurring disorder that includes alcohol and depression, you should know that most rehab facilities in America utilize a wide range of services to help individuals overcome depression and also end their relationship with alcohol. Some of these services include the following:

Medication-assisted detox – Because sudden alcohol cessation can trigger an array of unpleasant symptoms, many rehab facilities will provide patients with prescription-based medications to make getting through detox easier. Some of these medications include naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram.

Antidepressants and counseling – To help patients overcome their struggles with depression, many of these same rehab facilities offer cognitive behavioral therapy with a licensed therapist. This particular form of psychotherapy helps patients identify the underlying issues that motivated them to start drinking and how to better cope with them. Along with therapy, most rehab facilities will provide patients with antidepressant medication that can help keep depression at bay and improve their chances of getting through rehab.

Access to sober living homes and support groups – To give patients the best chance of achieving long-term sobriety, many facilities will assist patients with transitioning to a sober living home, choosing a support group, or both. To understand the benefit of these aftercare programs following rehab, it helps to take a closer look at them individually. In short, a sober living home is a transitional home that some individuals go to before making their way back to mainstream society. Support groups, on the other hand, are organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous, for example. There, individuals discover coping strategies and other tenets of living a substance-free life from others who are on a similar journey toward regaining control over their life once and for all.

Bottom Line

In summary, depression can make day-to-day living difficult. And turning to alcohol as a way to self-medicate only doesn’t help matters. That being said, if you need help overcoming depression, alcohol addiction, or a combination of the two, consider scheduling an appointment with one of our caring and knowledge associates today at 772-266-5320.

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