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Living with Depression: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Mental Illness 

Living with Depression: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Mental Illness 

When two disorders occur at the same time, it is often called a dual diagnosis. Depending on what the two disorders are – and various factors related to the individual – recovery can include different ups and downs. Dual diagnoses can be incredibly difficult to manage if both aren’t taken into consideration – depression is quite a common occurrence amongst those who also battle with addiction, so it’s important to ensure that both get proper treatment. If you’ve been struggling with depression while working towards sobriety, please know that you’re not alone – and there is help at Enlightened Solutions for healing and restoration. 

Hiding the Pain with Medication 

Millions upon millions of people across the world experience depression and many don’t understand that it’s a mental illness – not their actual reality – that’s making day-to-day life so hard. It’s hard to seek out a diagnosis for depression, however, especially because it’s so hard to talk about and understand. For example, a person with depression may find it incredibly difficult to open up to their friends and family about this issue, because depression causes us to feel as though it’s our problem alone to deal with – and that only closes us off to more people who could help us.

Previous studies have explored issues like depression as it’s related to self-medication, and they’ve found that drugs like marijuana and alcohol tend to be the most common to use because they’re not viewed by society as “severe” as other drugs. Self-medication occurs when a person uses substances in order to try and mask the symptoms they’re experiencing – although this may seem to work in the meantime, the unfortunate reality is that it becomes easier than ever before to become addicted to these substances. We have a chemical in our brain called dopamine, and whenever something releases this chemical (such as food, sex, drugs, shopping, gambling, etc.), our memory stores it in place as a good one. From there, it becomes easier and easier for the brain to recollect those “feel good” memories – which can entice a person to continue using substances. 

Addiction Recovery and Depression: Managing Both Disorders

Routine

Recovery is a courageous endeavor and one that could change your life for the better. There’s no particular “right way” for a person to heal, as each person has different needs that must be addressed. For those with depression, it often helps to talk and open up to people – even if one doesn’t feel like it. From there, it’s nice to create a strict schedule for navigating each day, including times to wake up, eat, and go to sleep. This helps rewire the brain to get back on track so that it’s no longer “stuck in a rut”.

 Therapy 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)  helps us to identify old, negative thought patterns, while giving us insight into how much importance we’re placing on those thoughts, and if we really need to be giving them much importance considering the effect it’s having on our happiness and health. CBT provides many people with depression the tools and resources they need to really start thinking critically about their thought patterns and what they can do to improve their current circumstances.

Nutrition/Exercise 

When depression hits, it’s common to feel incredibly tired, agitated, and with too many – or too little – feelings to deal with. On top of that, substance abuse can make the situation worse, depriving us of vital nutrients through an unhealthy diet and leaving us with little – or too much – sleep. Depression festers in its own way, and some people even have difficulty maintaining proper hygiene for health and wellness. If you add all of the effects of depression plus the negative effects associated with substance abuse, it becomes a nasty cycle – and exercise can help break the cycle by relieving stress, promoting teamwork and building a sense of community.

Spirituality 

Despite the way depression or detox may be causing you to feel, it’s crucial to begin working on who you are as a person. Spirituality, such as praying, meditating, and creating a strong social support network, can help us to feel as though our lives matter – because they do – and because it’s truly the mental illness causing us to feel as though we don’t. 

The emotional walls we’ve put up, the way we’ve closed ourselves in, the opportunities we’ve passed, the loved ones we’ve hurt, and the substances we’ve relied on can only be healed by choosing to move forward, and spirituality can help us identify what our purpose is in life. 12-Step programs can greatly help aid in this process of discovery, especially as they help connect us more closely to God or another Higher Power.

If you’re ready to recover from addiction and depression, speak to one of our admissions experts today at 833-801-LIVE.