When an individual is struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, there may be other factors that are contributing to the reliance on a substance. Often, an underlying mental health condition is causing the person to “self medicate” in an effort to deal with symptoms that affect their daily lives. Depression is one of the most common issues that accompany addiction. And providing a successful treatment program requires that the underlying mental health problem be treated as well.
Depression and Chronic Fatigue
Addiction experts find that a high percentage of individuals with substance abuse problems also have an underlying, untreated depression. Depression is a mood disorder that is often caused by a disruption in brain chemistry. Certain brain chemicals that regulate mood may not be produced, and so the individual feels very low energy, unmotivated, uninterested in activities and may be tired all the time. Struggling to maintain a normal schedule can be difficult or impossible when you have depression. The use of alcohol or drugs may be used to “prop up” the individual’s mood, so they can maintain their normal lives. However, in the end, the addiction takes over and they eventually lose control.
Depression and Pain Symptoms
The link between depression and pain is complex. Unexplained pain is a known symptom of depression. The brain chemicals that support mood also help to alleviate pain in the body. The lack of these brain chemicals can amplify the experience of discomfort. If you have a variety of aches and pains that can’t be explained by medical tests, it may be because of an underlying depression. Similarly, chronic pain conditions can lead to depression, due to the person often having to function while experiencing discomfort. In either case, an individual may become reliant on substances to deal with the physical discomfort, and may become addicted.
How Symptoms Associated With Depression Can Influence Addiction
Headaches and backaches are common in individuals who are depressed. Vague body aches and severe menstrual symptoms can also be among the symptoms presented by those with depression. Individuals may find that a “quick drink” helps mask the pain, so they can get through the day. The drinking may become continuous, until the signs of addiction begin to upset daily living. Similarly, an individual may seek out medical care for chronic pain symptoms, gradually increasing the strength and dose, until addiction becomes a problem. This same cycle can come into play with fatigue, with the reliance on an outside substance to provide energy for daily life quickly changes into addictive behavior that causes life to go out of control.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment of Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Because addiction treatment experts have recognized that so many of their patients are dealing with depressive symptoms, they have developed specialized programs called “dual diagnosis” treatment. However, “dual diagnosis” can also cover other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other issues. In dual diagnosis treatment, the mental health problem is not treated as a separate condition from the addiction, but part of the problem. The mental health condition receives ongoing treatment with medications, talk therapy and family involvement to support management of the problem. In that way, the person is better able to fully participate in the addiction treatment component of their care, so they can have a successful recovery.
Untangling the Depression and the Addiction
An addiction counselor trained in dual diagnosis treatment has knowledge of the common symptoms of mental health conditions. During the intake process, they can garner clues about behavior, habits and thought patterns that can indicate an underlying mental health problem that requires treatment. Sometimes, talking with other family members or close friends will reveal behaviors that suggest the person may need treatment for depression or other problems. These close associates may mention that individual being constantly tired or sleeping, that they mention frequent pain or are known to be taking pills or other substances to manage symptoms. Once a mental health problem is suspected, psychological counseling can help to diagnose the condition formally, so that dual diagnosis treatment can begin.
Managing a mental health condition like depression can be critical to success in recovery from addiction. During your initial assessment, your counselor will carefully evaluate you for depression and other conditions that may affect your success in treatment. With the proper treatment program, you can be successfully in managing your addiction, as well as ensuring that depressive symptoms are well in control. If you have an alcohol or drug problem, call today to begin your journey to a healthier, more stable life. Call us today at 772-266-5320.