Why Do So Many People in Recovery Experience Depression?

Why Do So Many People in Recovery Experience Depression?

Many people diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD) experience depressive symptoms. The prevalence of depression is not unusual. Clinical depression is one of the most common mental health disorders diagnosed worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4.7% of adults regularly feel depressed. 

Substance abuse can cause changes in the brain that lead to the development of depression. In some cases, substance abuse is used as a form of self-medication to cope with the symptoms of pre-existing depression. Newport Beach Recovery Center provides evidence-based treatment to help clients manage depressive symptoms related to SUD and co-occurring conditions during rehabilitation. 

How Common Is Depression? 

Many people experience depressive symptoms at some point in their lives. However, nearly twice as many individuals with SUD have depressive episodes compared to the general public. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2019, 7.8% of adults with SUD experienced depressive episodes. The number of individuals with SUD who have major depressive symptoms has continued to increase in the last decade. COVID-19, increased economic stress, and other factors have contributed to the increase of people struggling with depression. Some risk factors for developing depressive symptoms include: 

  • Substance abuse 
  • Financial issues
  • Relationship problems
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Trauma
  • History of mental health disorders
  • Lack of emotional support 
  • Unsafe living environment
  • Emotional or physical isolation 
  • Genetics 
  • Age 

According to the CDC, individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 have the highest risk of becoming clinically depressed. In addition, this age range is more likely to abuse alcohol and other mind-altering substances. As such, we need to check on our younger loved ones and help them get the medical care that they need.

Substance Abuse and Changes the Brain 

Alcohol and drugs produce physiological changes that affect mood and cognition. The side effects stop certain areas of the brain from working as effectively. As a result, some people develop anxiety, depression, and other mental health symptoms. Teens and young adults who abuse substances can affect their developing brains and potentially cause long-term damage. In many cases, the effects of substance abuse on the brain reverse themselves in time. However, certain mood changes might take longer to dissipate, and they could require prescription medications like antidepressants to manage the symptoms.

Additionally, prolonged use of substances can start to deteriorate certain areas of the brain. This leads to a less functional and cognitively-impaired brain. The change in functionality can cause enough mental distress to trigger a depressive episode.

Depression and Co-Occurring Disorders

Many co-occurring mental health disorders feature depressive symptoms. According to Science and Practice Perspectives, “Mood disorders, including depression . . . are the most common psychiatric comorbidities among patients with [SUD].” Comorbid depression exists along a spectrum. Some individuals may barely notice it, while others might have difficulty functioning in their day-to-day lives due to depressive episodes and other side effects. 

During treatment for SUD, it is essential for anyone struggling with co-occurring conditions to participate in simultaneous treatment addressing all active and underlying mental health issues. The most common forms of treatment for depression include: 

  • Psychotherapy 
  • Prescription medication 
  • Biofeedback
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • Alternative holistic therapies 

During treatment at Newport Beach Recovery Center, you will collaborate with your care team to determine the best approach to treatment and therapy. This may include inpatient residential treatment or a partial hospitalization plan to start with. Afterward, you may switch to a less intensive treatment plan like intensive outpatient or outpatient aftercare.

How Does Depression Impact Recovery? 

Depression exists along a spectrum, and severe symptoms can significantly impact recovery. Some individuals with depression have difficulty completing basic tasks of daily living, including: 

  • Getting out of bed 
  • Dressing appropriately 
  • Maintaining personal hygiene
  • Preparing, eating, and cleaning up after meals 
  • Staying motivated 
  • Housekeeping 
  • Maintaining essential relationships
  • Attending mandatory treatment sessions

Depression can cause you to withdraw and isolate yourself from others as a way to protect yourself from emotional distress. However, it is crucial to actively communicate your needs and nurture your close relationships. Family support can provide significant motivation for individuals with depression. 

Depression and Your Loved Ones

Close family members and friends may have difficulty understanding the realities of depression and how it impacts your everyday life. In many cases, depression affects relationships. You must actively work to communicate your needs and concerns. If you do not discuss your depressive episodes with them, they may react based on assumptions instead of facts. It is vital to remain open and objective when discussing mental health issues to protect your loved ones and yourself from misunderstandings. Let them know your needs during depressive episodes. 

Some people have a genetic predisposition to developing depression. The disorder or symptoms may run in the family. However, every person reacts differently to depression. In addition, substance abuse can significantly increase the severity of depressive episodes. If you’ve been diagnosed with depression and your symptoms look much different than those of a family member, educating them on the realities of addiction and dual diagnosis can help them understand your situation better. 

Treatment Options for Individuals in Recovery 

The most successful and common treatments for depression include prescription medication and talk therapy. We can accommodate dual diagnosis with primary substance abuse. Alternative treatment options offered by Newport Beach Recovery Center include: 

  • Biofeedback
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
  • Creative healing 
  • Hypnotherapy 

Clients at the Newport Beach Recovery Center participate in group and individual trauma therapy. In many cases, addressing underlying issues like trauma can reduce symptoms related to anxiety or depression. Processing trauma allows you to find healthier ways to cope with the symptoms of SUD. You can collaborate with your therapist to determine the best therapeutic method to address your depression and other co-occurring disorders. 

Many people recovering from substance abuse experience depressive symptoms related to their condition or co-occurring disorders. In some cases, depression is caused by substance abuse and physical changes to the brain. Other individuals have underlying issues or completely separate issues that contribute to the development of depression. You can successfully recover from depression and SUD by participating in dual-diagnosis treatment. Newport Beach Recovery Center uses evidence-based methods, including psychotherapy and alternative therapies, to treat substance abuse and dual diagnoses. In groups, you’ll also engage in behavioral activation to counteract depression and SUD. To find out more about our treatment programs and services, call us at (888) 850-0363. Start your healing journey from co-occurring depression and SUD today.

Depression and Substance Abuse: A Guide for Women

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are twice more likely to suffer depression than men.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse also places the number of women above age 18 to have used drugs in their lifetime at 19.4 million.  With such compelling statistics, it is clear that depression and drug abuse are key issues among women in the country.

Below is a depression and substance abuse guide for women:

The relationship between depression and addiction

Research shows that there is a strong connection between major depression and substance abuse. This is mostly because the main factors that contribute to depression also play a part in substance abuse disorders. Similarly, the various effects of addiction can mask or worsen the symptoms of mental illness. If you notice that your loved one has co-occurring depression and substance abuse, you should consider discussing the problem with them affectionately and compassionately before seeking a structured intervention.

Facts about depression and substance abuse

To identify the most effective treatment program for depression and addiction, here are a few facts you should know about the two disorders.

  • Generally, women have various reasons for using drugs and will use these substances in a different way than men.
  • There are times when women will respond differently to substances. For instance, they could have more drug cravings, become more sensitive to the effects of drugs due to sex hormones, or experience significantly different brain changes.
  • The risk of dying from a drug overdose or the effects of certain substances is higher in women than in men.
  • Women who are addicted to certain substances can experience panic attacks, anxiety, or even depression.
  • Factors that can trigger substance abuse and depression in women include domestic violence, divorce, death of a partner, or loss of child custody.

Substance use during pregnancy can pose a serious health risk to mother and unborn baby, both in the short and long term.

Common causes of depression

While the exact causes of depression have not been identified, there are several theories about the roots of the condition.

  • Brain structure and chemistry – brains of individuals with depressive disorders have a different structure from those without. The areas responsible for cognition, mood, sleeping, and metabolic function will have a unique appearance. Depression has also been linked to imbalances in brain chemicals that regulate moods, appetite, and energy levels.
  • Environmental factors – a history of emotional, sexual or physical abuse and a disorderly home environment during childhood can contribute towards depression in adolescence or adulthood. The good news is that trauma therapy can help heal the wounds inflicted by these experiences. Some scientists have also linked depression to genetics, with people who have relatives suffering from the condition being at risk of developing the same condition.
  • Situational factors – some of the experiences and setbacks we face in life can also result in depression if the emotions surrounding the events are not resolved.

Signs and symptoms to look out for

It is important to identify depression and substance abuse in good time to seek the necessary interventions. Here are some of the signs and symptoms to look out for.

  • Mood swings, erratic behavior and shifts in personality
  • Substance abuse affecting school, work, family obligations and responsibilities
  • Problems with concentration and memory
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Withdrawing and loss of interest in hobbies and daily activities
  • Unintentional weight loss or gain, poor hygiene
  • Suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts
  • Inability to control the amount of time spent using drugs
  • Financial problems

Consequences of untreated depression and substance abuse

When ignored or left untreated, depression and substance abuse disorders can have serious consequences. Long-term health problems may include

  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory complications and diseases
  • Liver and kidney damage or disease
  • Skin infections
  •  Stroke
  • Brain damage
  • Overdose or death
  •  Cognitive defects

In case one abuses drugs during pregnancy, the baby may be born with several health problems. These include low birth weight, congenital disabilities, premature birth, small head size or sudden infant death syndrome.

Types of depressive disorders

Depression comes in many forms, making it important to know the different subtypes of the condition. The different forms are influenced by the cause of the symptoms, duration, and severity. Some common types of depressive disorders are major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar, postpartum, seasonal affective disorder, and psychosis. All these types require attention and specialized treatment.

Treatment options and programs

Since depression and substance abuse affect women differently, treatment for the two conditions may be different than for men. Struggling with these conditions can bring feelings of isolation, loneliness, and worthlessness. Similarly, family members can feel frustrated and stressed. It is important, to be honest about the problem as you seek help.

In most cases, depression and substance abuse disorders will be treated using a combination of therapy and medications. Effective interventions and depression treatment will include antidepressant medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, trauma therapies, and family systems therapy.

There are different treatment options that you can choose from. These include outpatient services, intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization program, medical detox, residential treatment programs, and inpatient rehabilitation. It is important to choose the right treatment for the patient’s condition.

In conclusion, once a patient has received the necessary treatment, family and loved ones should offer the care and support they need to resume a normal life. There is always the possibility of relapse when it comes to depression and substance abuse. A strong support network will help the affected persons feel loved and valued, putting them firmly on the path to full recovery.