Problems with mental health and substance abuse typically go hand-in-hand. Researchers estimate that around 50% of people with severe mental illness disorders, such as bipolar or depression, will suffer from a substance abuse problem.
Treating addiction is already a difficult task. When the addiction sufferer also has serious mental health problems, recovering becomes even more challenging. If you or somebody you know has both depression and alcohol problems, then you may have a dual diagnosis.
This is the term used to describe when an individual has two co-occurring disorders. Dual diagnosis treatment requires a different approach. Read on to find out more about mental health and addiction, and how to reach the path to recovery:
Depression and Alcohol Abuse: What Comes First?
While mental illness and substance abuse are often connected, it is not a straightforward ‘chicken or egg’ situation. Those with underlying mental health problems are significantly more likely to develop addiction issues.
This is often because they use alcohol and drugs to self-medicate. On the flip side, long-term substance abuse has serious effects on mental health.
Effective substance abuse treatment recognizes that people with no mental health problems can develop them through substance abuse. In addition, those who already suffer from depression may often find that substance abuse makes their condition much worse.
Signs of Depression
Effective dual diagnosis treatment means recognizing the signs of both depression and substance abuse. Here are the key signs to look out for in a depressed individual:
- Persistent feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Loss of interest in hobbies or recreational activities
- Lack of energy and persistent feelings of tiredness
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Dramatic sleep changes – either sleeping too much or too little can be a sign
- Anger and violent mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
In addition, it is also important to look out for the common signs of alcohol abuse before seeking a dual diagnosis. Here are the major signs:
- Inability to reduce alcohol intake, despite trying repeatedly
- Drinking alone on regular occasions
- Lying to others about how often you drink
- Your drinking is causing problems with your personal relationships
- Your drinking is affecting your work
- Consistently regretting your behavior after you have been drinking
- Blacking out during bouts of drinking
- Your friends or family members have expressed concern about your drinking
If any of these signs apply, it may be time to seek treatment.
If you or a loved one has received a dual diagnosis, seek treatment immediately. Those with a dual diagnosis are at a very high risk of destructive and even deadly behavior, so don’t waste any time.
At dual diagnosis treatment centers, you will find medical experts who take a tailored approach to treatment. Both the substance abuse and the mental illness will be treated simultaneously, rather than being considered separately.
This holistic approach helps patients to understand the relationship between their addiction and their mental health, allowing for effective recovery.
Knowing the links between depression and alcohol is vital for pursuing a healthy lifestyle. To learn more, make sure to browse our regularly-updated Health + Fitness Section for all of the advice you could need.