Depression and Alcoholism: Co-Occurring Disorders
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There are many reasons why individuals suffer from alcoholism, and genetics, environmental factors and mental health issues are just a few explanations. Co-occurring disorders occur when an individual suffers from both a mental health issue and an addiction such as depression and alcohol. Though they are completely treatable, co-occurring disorders are especially delicate and require integrated clinical therapy to achieve lasting results.
Nearly a third of individuals who suffer from major depressive disorder also suffer from alcoholism. Though it can be hard to determine with certainty, in many cases the depression is present before the addiction takes place.
These numbers are compounded by the fact that 10 percent of Americans experience depression, yet more than 80 percent of those who deal with depression go undiagnosed and untreated. In the absence of professional treatment, it’s not uncommon for those suffering in silence to deepen their relationship with alcohol.
Negative Feedback Loops
Whether alcoholism is caused by depression or vice versa varies on a case-by-case scenario, but what remains the same is the impact that the two have on one another. For an individual struggling with alcoholism and depression, the negative feedback loop is self-perpetuating.
A person drinks in an attempt to feel better, only to find that the relief is merely temporary, if at all. This may lead to further attempts to self-medicate by drinking larger amounts with more frequency. Through this process, depression compounds these factors, leading the individual to quickly descend into addiction.
The seemingly endless cycle of addiction has residual social repercussions as well. Many times people find themselves not caring about anything outside of their addiction. They may be unwilling to speak with others, show up at work or do anything that might interfere with their drinking routine. The inability to listen to reason, combined with disconnection from the world around them, produces a potent fertilizer in which depression, anxiety and addiction can grow.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Quitting cold turkey can not only be ineffective, it can be dangerous. Receiving help from certified professionals through a medically supervised detox program will greatly increase chances of recovery and decrease the dangers that come along with detoxing.
Trained specialists look at the root of the addiction and mental health issue and treat them both from the very start—healing both mind and body. People can learn new ways to cope with their mental health issues and begin to discover the potential that they may have thought was gone forever.
Types of Therapy
Many dual-diagnosis treatment facilities go beyond conventional individual and group therapy, giving individuals the chance to get to know themselves again through activities like art, yoga, exercise and music. When administered effectively and adhered to, therapy can help resolve co-occurring disorders and give people suffering from addiction the tools they need to overcome obstacles in a healthy and positive way.
Anyone who is suffering from alcoholism or who may be developing a drinking problem shouldn’t wait to treat these issues. The more time that passes, the more difficult it will be to break the negative feedback loop.