Depression and Addiction
What is Depression?
Depression is a common mood disorder that negatively impacts thoughts and emotions. Depression causes feelings of sadness, lethargy, and a loss of interest in once-enjoyable things. Depression has been linked to emotional and physical problems that affect the ability to function at work or home. Depression has a significant impact on one’s life, but it is treatable and there are resources available.
How Common is Depression?
According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), approximately 7.8% of U.S. adults (19.4 million people) struggle with major depression each year.1
Signs and Symptopms of Depression
Common depression symptoms may include:
How is Depression Diagnosed?
Beck Depression Inventory
The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is a twenty-one-item test that covers the characteristics, attitudes, and symptoms of depression. The BDI has shown to have a high effectiveness rate in diagnosing depression (86% effectiveness rate), and it’s a common tool used for psychiatric evaluations.2
The DSM-5 is a depression test that outlines a set of criteria associated with depression. This test is widely used by physicians and psychiatrists to diagnose depression, and it has a high rate of effectiveness when it comes to accurately diagnosing depression.
How are Depression and Addiction Connected?
There is a wide overlap between addiction and depression. Studies have shown that approximately one-third of patients with major depressive disorder also struggle with a substance use disorder (SUD). When these conditions are combined, they feed into one another. Both must be treated at the same time to get the best results.
Depression Co-Occurring with Common Addictions
Depression often co-occurs with common addictions such as alcohol, stimulants (cocaine and amphetamines), opioids, and sedatives. Such substances are used for the same purpose of self-medication to cope with depression. Ways to treat dual a diagnosis of depression and addiction include:
CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is one of the most common forms of therapy for the treatment of addiction and depression. Behavioral therapy helps one reshape their negative behaviors, such as substance abuse, into more positive outlets and coping mechanisms. Therapy can also uncover any other underlying issues that may be causing depression and addiction to occur.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a form of therapy that’s meant to help someone deal with trauma. Traumatic events can be the main cause of both addiction and depression, and treatment of that trauma can help resolve these ongoing issues.
Medication can also be used during the treatment process to help alleviate depression or substance withdrawal symptoms. These medications can be very effective for successful treatment and make the recovery process more comfortable.
Warning Signs of Addiction
There are common signs and symptoms used to recognize addiction:
Most Common Types of Depression
Depression can come in different forms and severities. It’s important to know the type of depression that someone is struggling with to find the best treatment.
Major depressive disorder is a serious form of depression. It’s characterized by depressive symptoms that occur over a longer period.3 Common medical guidelines state that a major depressive episode is one where the symptoms last for more than two weeks. Major depression can be chronic and requires medical treatment for the best results.
Dysthymia is also known as persistent depressive disorder.4 Dysthymia is characterized by long-term depressive symptoms that can last for years and affect numerous aspects of someone’s life. There are many treatments available that can help someone learn to cope and manage dysthymia to live a normal and happy life.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by symptoms of depression that occur during the winter months.5 It is important to be aware of seasonal affective disorder so one can receive proper treatment for depression during these times of the year.
Atypical depression is a specific sub-type of major depression or dysthymic depressive disorder. Atypical depression is a reactive depressive disorder characterized by changes in mood when something positive or negative happens in someone’s life. The main difference between atypical depression and major depression is that when something good happens in one’s life, a person with major depression won’t have their mood change. One with atypical depression, though, will see a significant improvement in their mood.
You Can Overcome Depression and Addiction
Both depression and addiction can be overcome. These issues have a major impact on one’s life, and signs and symptoms must be recognized to find proper help. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and addiction, there are resources available. Speaking to a medical professional or going to a treatment center is a good first step on the road to recovery.