There’s nothing harder than watching a loved one in pain.
Seeing someone you care about deeply, struggling with the disease of addiction, can be intense and heartbreaking.
What can make addiction even harder to deal with is a dual diagnosis.
Addiction combined with other illnesses like depression or anxiety can complicate an already overwhelming situation. Depression and addiction are related on several levels, and it’s not uncommon to be diagnosed with both.
How can you help someone you love who has substance abuse issues and depression?
First, you’ll need to understand the relationship between the two conditions and then you’ll be able to learn how best to support an important person in your life.
Symptoms of Depression
While everyone goes through ups and downs in life, the feelings of sadness usually pass as time goes on. However, for those who have depression disorder, this is not the case. Depression can last weeks, months or even years. While the exact cause of depression is not known, it can be caused by and experienced differently based on many factors including genetics, medication, brain chemistry and hormone.
How do you know when you have clinical depression as opposed to just a temporary phase of sadness? There are many depression symptoms that may mean you need to seek depression treatment. Some of them are:
- Lack of enjoyment of hobbies and activities
- Lack of energy
- Fatigue or excessive tiredness
- Insomnia or irritability
- Severe boredom
- Lack of concentration or focus
Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and Depression
A dual diagnosis is when a person has substance abuse or eating disorder issues, as well as a co-existing mental illness. Both conditions require therapeutic and medical treatment at a facility that is equipped to deal with a dual diagnosis.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses found in American adults. For some, addiction and depression issues develop in response to a traumatic event.
Stressful episodes can trigger depression or substance abuse but can make the brain more prone to both problems. They may even come at the same time. Your loved one may turn to drugs for help, but depression could strike anyway.
The danger of co-occurring disorder is that a person may not ever get the chance to process, understand, or cope with the traumatizing event that played a role in their disorder in the first place.
Since this is a unique situation with a sensitive connection between the two conditions, it’s imperative that your friend of family member enters a treatment center that has individualized plans.
Depression is treated in many different ways. Patients may see their therapist or they may be prescribed antidepressants. Treatment for depression can be a combination of therapy and medication. Antidepressants are usually one of the following:
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – SSRIs are a newer kind of antidepressants. They work by changing the amount of the chemical serotonin – a chemical that naturally regulates mood – in the brain. Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Luvox, Pexeva and Sarafem are all SSRIs.
- Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) – A more recent antidepressant, SNRIs work by increasing the norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. Duloxetine, Desvenlafaxine, Milnacipran, Venlafaxine XR, Venlafaxine and Levomilnacipran are all examples of SNRIs.
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) – MAOIs are the most effective type of antidepressant for many patients. Emsam, Eldepryl, Marplan, Zalapar, Parnate and Nardil are all examples of MAOIs.
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) – TCAs also work on the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. Because the side effects for TCAs can be quite strong, TCAs are usually a last resort in depression treatment. Anafranil, Aventyl, Endep, Adapin, Elavil, Nopramin, Pertofrane, Pamelor, Surmontil, Tofranil and Vivactil are all examples of TCAs.
Some patients prefer alternative forms of treatment for depression. There are many mind-body techniques that – when practiced regularly – may be extremely helpful such as:
- Tai Chi
- Massage therapy
- Aerobic exercise
- Music or art therapy
How to Help Someone With Depression and Addiction
It can be difficult seeing a family member suffering from depression and addiction. Living with them can be even more challenging. So, what can you do to help a person in your life who has co-occurring disorders of depression and addiction?
Listen and learn – Educating yourself on the topics of addiction, depression, and dual diagnosis is a great starting point to helping your loved one.
Set boundaries – If you are cohabitating with this person, it’s imperative that you set your boundaries. This means that if you do not feel comfortable with drugs or alcohol in your house, you establish that rule and stick to it. It also might involve financial and other household boundaries.
Organize an intervention – If the situation of the important person in your life becomes too much, it may be time to organize an intervention for them. Interventions are appropriate when a person struggling with addiction cannot clearly see the negative repercussions associated with their addiction. When conducted with the right goal in mind and with professionals, interventions can be a powerful tool for change.
Be supportive and encouraging – You can offer to help them look for the proper treatment options and support them on their journey into recovery. But ultimately, a person cannot change unless they want to. Being available to offer an ear to listen to and an open heart to love them along the way may be the best you can do.
Understanding depression and addiction and their relationship can seem overwhelming at first, but knowledge is the key to being there for your loved ones in need.
Depression and Substance Use Disorder
Depression and addiction unfortunately go hand in hand. Many people self-medicate their depression with the use of drugs and/or alcohol. The substance abuse tends to exacerbate the problem, especially depressants like alcohol. The dual presentation of a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder is known as duel diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.
If you have a co-occurring disorder, it is important to seek out treatment for both conditions. Your substance use disorder may require detoxification, an inpatient treatment program, an outpatient treatment program or a partial hospitalization program. One of the best things about The Recovery Village at Ridgefield is that there are addiction specialists on staff that will evaluate and assess your situation, and they will be able to formulate an individualized treatment program to meet your needs.
With skilled addiction specialists and healthcare professionals on staff, patients with co-occurring disorders will find the treatment they need at The Recovery Village at Ridgefield. Convenient to Tacoma, Portland, Seattle, and Eugene, The Recovery Village at Ridgefield provides patients with the treatment they need to begin a long-term path to recovery. If you are suffering from depression as well as substance use disorder, help is only one call away. Reach out to us today.