There’s a strong link between addiction and depression. A depressed person is more likely to use drugs, alcohol, and other substances to relieve depressive symptoms. Approximately 1/3rd of the population with clinical depression is said to engage in substance abuse as a form of self-medication to get rid of feelings of despair, hopelessness, and low-self worth.
Additionally, people battling with depression have a 10% lifetime risk of suicide. The percentage is 25% if you throw substance abuse in the mix.
When the substance becomes addictive, it can further add fuel to a person’s depressive state. In this way, substance abuse and depression can feed into one other; making both conditions worse. In this post, we look at different treatment options for depression and addiction so that the person can transition into a sober life.
Treatment For Your Depression
Depression alters brain chemistry. That’s why drugs are thought to be effective in restoring that chemical balance. The most common medication for depression is antidepressants. However, there are other options too. Each drug works differently by working on different chemicals in the brain that we call neurotransmitters.
Below are the most common drug classes used for treating depression:
- SSRIs or Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- SNRIs or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
- TCAs (Tricyclic antidepressants)
- Dopamine reuptake blocker
- Tetracyclic antidepressant
- 5-HT1A receptor antagonist
- 5-HT2 receptor antagonist
- 5-HT3 receptor antagonist
- Noradrenergic antagonist
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
Other natural treatments like St. John’s Wort are also said to be an effective natural remedy for depression; though it doesn’t belong to any of the aforementioned drug classes.
Psychotherapy essentially involves working with a mental health professional. Other terms for it are ‘psychological therapy’ and ‘talk therapy’. Talking with a professional can be super effective for most individuals as they get to open up about their inner struggles and problems to which a professional can offer a solution.
Common therapies for depression are Interpersonal Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Talk to your mental health professional to see which therapy might be best for you.
While you may not cure depression on your own, certain self-help routines/steps coupled with lifestyle changes could speed up the recovery process. The most helpful steps are:
Stick with your treatment – Make it a point to attend all appointments and psychotherapy sessions even if you don’t feel up to it. Additionally, take your medications regularly. Skipping on medications could result in withdrawal symptoms which could make depression worse.
Educate yourself about depression – Reading good books on depression can educate you about different ways in which depression creeps into your life. You can learn various triggers and be on the lookout for it. Education can empower you and make you feel like you’re in charge rather than feel intimidated by your condition.
Be wary of triggers and warning signs – Different triggers cause depression in different individuals. Working with a therapist or a healthcare professional can help you recognize those trigger warnings so you can take preemptive measures. See if your triggers and symptoms change overtime. You can also ask friends, families, and relatives to watch out for those warning signs.
Connecting with a network of friends
Illnesses are often isolating. Depression in particular can add to that feeling of isolation and loneliness. That’s why engaging in group therapies and connecting with a network of people who are going through similar challenges can lessen that sense of isolation and alienation. Listening to other people’s success stories motivates you to become a success story too. Today, you can find online support groups and networks of people battling with depression to make you feel like you’re not alone.
Treatment for Addiction
With the help of medically-assisted substance detoxification, you can get rid of the addictive substances from your body in a safe manner/environment. Detox is good mostly when it’s performed in combination with other treatment therapies, many of which can be found in upscale rehab centers. You should know that detox does not treat the underlying cause.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an invaluable tool for treating and managing different kinds of addictions including food, prescription drugs, and alcohol addiction. With the help of CBT, a person can recognize his/her triggers, unhealthy behavioral patterns and also learn coping skills to manage the onset of addictive symptoms before they get worse. Another upside of CBT is that it works excellently when performed with other therapeutic techniques.
The 12-step programs aka Twelve-step facilitation therapy also works well for treating alcohol and substance abuse. Think of it as a form of group therapy. Under this facilitation, participants learn the negative consequences that addiction brings across several fronts such as physical, spiritual, emotional, and social.
A typical 12-step facilitation program starts with getting the participants to accept addiction before surrendering to a higher power. The program slowly transitions into regular involvement in group meetings. Programs like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is a classic example of group therapy that involve regular meetings, healthy discussions, and mutual support.
Treatment with Medication
Medication such as that is given in methadone clinics could fix chemical imbalances that might be causing the addiction. It works better in conjunction with other behavioral therapies. Certain medications can reduce mood, decrease addictive behaviours, and improve mood. Lofexidine, for instance, is a medication recently approved by the FDA that works by managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms and reducing the cravings during the ongoing treatment for opioid addiction. Acamprosat is another medication that reduces drinking behaviour.
Recovery or rehab centers
Addiction recovery and rehab centers work on all aspects of the addiction including recognizing the triggers, understanding the cause, and using therapies in combination with medication (if necessary). A patient can either opt for a residential rehab program or partake in an outpatient one. Although the former is thought to be much more effective. Overcoming addiction to hard drugs like heroin is tough if you don’t go to the right facility. Make sure you do your research before you enter a heroin drug rehab program and be honest with yourself. If you don’t accept you need help from the beginning you will be in for a roller coaster ride of addiction and depression.
In-patient rehab centers work by putting the person in a completely different setting (to remove all the reminders and triggers from older life) so the person can start afresh. Family members are also involved so they can act as a support system to fight the addiction and not the person. Recovery programs can be 30 to 365 days long and even longer than that.
If your loved one or someone you know is battling with addiction or depression, know that help is available. Do not fight your battles alone. Seek proper medical and professional advice. With the right combination of treatment, you can overcome any and all kinds of addictions.
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