Psychosocial treatments are arguably the most important aspect of treatment for all depression diagnoses. Though medication can play a part in the initial stabilization of the patient as well as ongoing management of symptoms, it is the work done through psychosocial treatments that can have the longest lasting impact and, in some cases, may render medication unnecessary.
Many patients diagnosed with depression also struggle with co-occurring disorders, especially drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. Drinking and drug use can cause the depression symptoms to worsen; in the same way, depression can trigger cravings for more of the drug of choice. For this reason, it is important that patients diagnosed with co-occurring disorders undergo an intensive treatment program equipped with the resources to treat both issues simultaneously. The use of psychosocial treatments is not only effective in depression treatment but is helpful in the treatment of substance abuse as well.
There are a number of different psychosocial treatments that have been shown to be effective in treating patients diagnosed with all types of depression. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the following are effective psychosocial treatments for depression:
- Personal therapy. Emotional, social and behavioral issues that afflict those struggling with depression and other issues like substance abuse are addressed in a private forum, allowing the patient the freedom and safety to explore past issues, work on a plan for the future, and address day-to-day issues as they arise.
- Interpersonal therapy. The focus is on relationships the patient has with others in life. The goal is to reduce the isolation that increases the symptoms of depression and substance abuse and to help the patient strengthen their ability to communicate with and positively interact with others.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Increasing the patient’s ability to recognize thought patterns, feelings and behaviors that are inhibiting their ability to function well with others and in the world is the focus of CBT. Adjusting these perspectives in order to increase positivity can aid in improving the quality of life for those struggling with depression and also decrease cravings for drugs and alcohol.
- Group therapy. For those struggling with depression and substance abuse, support groups can offer a forum for sharing and support can can aid participants in practicing positive interactions with one another.
It is ineffective to only treat depression when multiple co-occurring disorders exist. Because the symptoms of Dual Diagnosis are often inextricably intertwined, it is essential that Dual Diagnosis patients seek treatment that addresses both disorders at the same time. Through therapies that provide guidance and care for both disorders simultaneously, the patient can grow and progress in recovery at a far more rapid pace and significantly reduce the risk of relapse either in substance abuse or in a depressive episode.
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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.