Why Depression and Alcoholism are the Same
Addiction and mental illness often go hand-in-hand, and the relationship between the two is never beneficial to the person suffering from them. It is estimated that 30 percent or more of the cases of alcohol addiction are also accompanied by mental health issues such as depression. This is a co-occurring condition and could signify a serious situation.
Why Depression Needs to be Treated
Depression is not just a state of mind. When you are clinically depressed, your entire body’s functions are depressed. Clinical depression can lead to chronic illnesses that not only persist, but can become fatal. Since depression lasts for such a long time, it runs the risk of exposing the body to illnesses that could take a serious toll on the individual’s health. If depression is not treated, it can become a very serious condition.
Which Comes First?
Do depressed people turn to drugs, or do drugs make people depressed? One of the reasons that co-occurring disorders are so prominent is because both issues can act as catalysts that create a series of horrible problems. When people are depressed, they might turn to alcohol to cope and find themselves addicted. Since alcohol is a depressant, the constant exposure to it can create a situation of clinical depression.
On the other hand, someone who is clinically depressed may turn to drugs to temporarily feel better. Since illicit drugs do not solve the depression problem, it is not long before the person finds themselves addicted and needing more and more drugs to cover up the pain. In either case, the situation can steamroll quickly because of how the two conditions play off of each other so effectively.
Recognizing the Problem
Everyone has those moments when they feel down, or a crisis occurs that makes them genuinely sad. The difference between these situations and clinical depression is that true depression lasts longer than a short period. The feelings of sadness and being alone do not fade after a couple of days, and the person starts to develop feelings of being truly helpless.
Alcohol addiction and depressions share many of the same symptoms. The shared symptoms include:
- A loss of interest in activities that used to make the person happy
- Being withdrawn all of the time
- No longer caring about personal hygiene or their appearance
- A noticeable increase in irritability and anger
- Significant changes in eating and sleeping behaviors
- Inability to concentrate on anything
- Persistent mention of suicidal thoughts or self-harming action
In some cases, alcohol addiction can have noticeable physical effects that help to separate it from depression, but this is not always the case. With co-occurring disorders, it takes a trained professional to be able to diagnose and recommend treatment for both issues.
How to Address and Treat the Problem
An escalation in depression can lead to an intense increase in the addiction. The best way to treat co-occurring disorders is to have a licensed professional do the proper evaluations.
It is often recommended that the dependence to alcohol be addressed first. Once the patient is detoxed and able to think clearly, then the depression should be treated.
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