Why do you need people around to keep you safe through withdrawal if you’re prone to depression? Because withdrawal is tough. You probably will not feel like socializing much, but being alone during the withdrawal process isn’t a good idea. This is especially true if you are already prone to depression and have had problems with this disease in the past. In fact, your depression may have led you to self-medicate with drugs in the first place. This is quite common. Women tend to be more prone to depression in general, but it can affect men, too. Withdrawal from most drugs, in itself, can produce feelings of depression even in those people who don’t have a history of the condition.
The Biochemical Basis of Depression
Everyone feels blue from time to time. This is part of life. Maybe a loved one or friend died or has become very ill. Romantic breakups are another common cause of temporary depression. But these are not examples of true, clinical depression. That is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters. Of these, serotonin and dopamine are the most relevant to depression. Dopamine makes you feel happy. It gives feelings of satisfaction for a job well done or a special accomplishment. It’s the brain chemical behind the joy you feel when your baby takes his first steps or when you fall in love. Serotonin is also closely associated with mood. Low brain serotonin levels are linked to depression.
Depression is a more specific issue, and more likely to occur, when withdrawing from opioids and amphetamines. Both drug classes drastically change brain chemistry when taken regularly over time. Regular use of opioids causes the brain to stop producing its own natural opiates, called endorphins. Endorphins ease pain and boost mood. Without them, life can seem to be very bleak. The brain will produce endorphins again, but it will take time for production of this vital substance to ramp up and reach normal levels again.
Abuse of amphetamine and amphetamine analogs like methylphenidate causes the brain to release huge amounts of dopamine. This results in subjective feelings of grandeur, elation and euphoria. You feel energized and like you can take on the whole world by yourself. The feeling is so fantastic that you want to experience it again and again. However, this repeated, artificially-induced release of dopamine depletes the brain’s supply of dopamine. When you stop using the stimulant, you’re left with abnormally low dopamine levels. This can cause feelings of depression, too.
Medications known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, relieve depression by increasing the amount of serotonin available to the brain’s cells. It does this by blocking the reuptake of this brain chemical by the brain’s cells. This leaves more serotonin available in the synapses, or spaces, between the brain’s cells, which are called neurons. If you’re under medical supervision as you withdraw, not only are you much safer, but a medication like fluoxetine can be prescribed for you. It will likely relieve at least some of your depression symptoms. It may also directly work to help your withdrawal symptoms, too.
Being alone when you’re withdrawing from any drug isn’t a good idea at all, but if you’re prone to depression, it’s even a worse idea. You may be so overwhelmed by your depression that you think life isn’t even worth living anymore. You may try to harm yourself. You may also give up and go use your drug of choice just to stop the depression and other withdrawal symptoms. Having people around you who care about you is important. They will provide support, encourage you, keep you safe and keep you on track. If you’re addicted to alcohol, barbiturates or benzodiazepines, though, you will need more than just support. You will need medical supervision. That’s because withdrawal from those drug classes can be dangerous, even life-threatening. Let a medical professional guide you through it, even if that means residential drug rehab or a stay in the hospital. You will be slowly withdrawn from the drug in a safe manner.
Withdrawal from opioids, assuming that’s all you were using, is generally not life-threatening. However, it can make you feel just horrible, with nausea, vomiting, insomnia, bone and muscle pain, depression, restless leg syndrome, diarrhea and stomach pain. It’s just miserable. Having someone there who cares about you and can help care for you can make all the difference.
If you need advice about withdrawal because you’re ready to stop using drugs, give us a call at 772-266-5320. We are professional drug counselors here to serve you 24 hours a day. We will assist you to find the help you need.