Everyone gets sad from time to time. Either due to mood swings, hormonal changes, or upsetting life events like divorce or the loss of a loved one, depression is a normal part of life. However, when depression symptoms continue for weeks or months at a time, it can be a sign that major depression – also known as clinical depression – is an issue.
For many patients, depression doesn’t exist alone. Rather, they live with Dual Diagnoses, or a diagnosis of depression as well as a diagnosis of another disorder. One of the most common co-occurring disorders to be diagnosed in patients struggling with depression is substance abuse. When the two co-occur, the result can be overwhelming to the patient and may include problems like:
- Acute health problems (including overdose)
- Chronic health problems
- Accidents while under the influence
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Social issues (e.g., problems with the law, at home and/or at work)
The good news is that both disorders are highly treatable and a full recovery can be made on both fronts when Dual Diagnosis treatment is sought.
Substance Abuse and Major Depression
In some cases, depression can be brought on by the use of drugs and alcohol. Whether or not they are sedating in nature, the backlash of a binge or getting high can result in a crash or significant depression. When drug abuse is a chronic problem, so too can be the depression it causes.
On the other hand, many patients attempt to medicate their depression by drinking or using drugs. Some seek a boost in mood through the use of stimulant drugs like cocaine and crystal meth while some seek escape through alcohol, heroin or prescription painkillers.
In both cases, the end result is often a chronic drug abuse problem or addiction that can be life-altering if not life-ending. In fact, the risk that those living with depression will take their own lives while under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs may be just as common as death due to overdose under these conditions.
Does Your Loved One Need Help?
Symptoms of major depression last for more than a few weeks and make it difficult for the patient to function in day-to-day life. If someone in your family is living with clinical depression, it’s hard to miss. Some of the signs of major depression include:
- Being easy to irritate or anger
- Isolating oneself from others, including friends and family
- Chronic fatigue or low energy
- Feelings of hopelessness, joylessness, guilt, self-loathing, etc.
- Lack of interest or involvement in hobbies or fun activities
- Sudden and extreme weight loss or gain with no other explainable cause
- Disruption in sleep patterns
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Chronic drug or alcohol abuse or dependence upon any illicit substance is also very visible to those who know the person well. Signs can include:
- Bottles of alcohol or drugs hidden around the house
- Lying about how much they drank or used drugs or how often
- Stealing money or manipulating others into giving them money to buy drugs or alcohol
- Refusing to take part in activities where drug and alcohol use is prohibited
Dual Diagnosis Rehab
The prevalence of depression disorders and addiction is exceedingly high in the United States. If your loved one is struggling with both problems, your family is not alone. Call now to have them connected to the Dual Diagnosis rehab program that will be able to help them overcome both disorders and begin a new life in recovery.
Further Reading About Major Depression (Clinical)
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.