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What are Depression and Substance Abuse?

There is strong evidence to support the conclusion that depression and substance abuse issues occur simultaneously. Roughly half of all individuals who have a serious mental health issue will suffer from a Substance Use Disorder in their lives. Depression is a particularly complex mental illness that is experienced by each individual differently.

For many who cope with depression, it is a lifelong presence, though it may come and go at different intervals in their lives. Depressive disorders are among the most common mental health issues, with an estimated 350 million people worldwide suffering from depression, and at least 10% of the American population will experience a major depressive episode in their lives.

However, the stigma against mental health issues, combined with the different expressions of depressive disorders, often leads to an underestimation of depression totals. For one person, depression may be experienced as a struggle with self-esteem, another individual may cope with insomnia as part of their depression, while someone else lashes out in anger.

Some individuals are able to talk about their depression, while others hide their symptoms, pretending to be happy or confident, while carrying the burden of their mental illness privately. Regardless of how depression is expressed, it is the result of a chemical imbalance within the body.

In some cases, individuals are born with depression, experiencing depressive episodes from childhood, and those who have a first degree relative with depression are two to three times more likely to experience depression themselves.

That being said, not everyone who experiences depression has a family history of the disorder, and traumatic life events, such as personal tragedy, violent crime, or childhood abuse, can lead to the development of depression. Yet once depression has begun, its effects are usually beyond the control of the individual, shaping their perception of events, and sometimes driving them to use substances to relieve their pain.

Effects of Depression and Substance Abuse

One of the most difficult aspects of the depression experience for those who live with depressive disorders is the fact that they can become self-perpetuating. A recent study showed that 30% of the population believes that personal weakness is the cause for depression.

These beliefs can be even more prevalent in certain segments of the population, such as among law enforcement, firefighter, military, and medical first responder populations. In these occupations, it is common for individuals to cope with traumatic events, yet there is historically an open bias against discussing depression.

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the risk of suicide among police officers is 54 percent greater than among American workers in general. Additionally, while women are more likely to express suicidal thoughts, men are two to four times more likely than women to die by suicide. Once again, this likely the impact of mental health stigma, and a consequence of the difficulty men typically face when discussing their mental health needs.

Furthermore, when individuals do try to discuss their depression, they are often misunderstood. Common beliefs that they are only “seeking attention,” “making excuses,” or “being dramatic,” may be used against them. Well-meaning friends and family may try to encourage those with depression to “cheer up” or simplify their feelings, making those experiencing depression feel even worse about their mental state.

Given the difficulty, many people face when discussing mental health issues, or when trying to find empathetic support for their depression, it is common for those experiencing depressive disorders to turn to alcohol or drugs for relief. There is a definite relationship between depression and substance abuse.

And initially, these strategies may seem to work. Those suffering from insomnia may find brief rest with a “nightcap,” or those lost in a depressive mood may find a momentary sense of euphoria through a stimulant, such as cocaine. But any positive feelings are short-lived and come at a great cost. Drugs and alcohol are able to produce sensations by altering the chemical balance of the brain and body.

But as the body becomes accustomed to drugs and alcohol, it requires more of those substances to achieve the same relief. Soon, those substances begin to affect the regulation of bodily chemicals, such as dopamine, making it harder for substance users to feel normal without using drugs or alcohol. For many individuals struggling with addiction, this will become an addictive cycle that further jeopardizes their mental health.

Mental Illness, Depression, and Addiction

Although depression can appear in many forms, and to varying degrees, it is a mental illness that requires support and assistance. When mental health issues are combined with mind-altering substances, such as alcohol, street drugs, misused prescriptions, or inhalants, a cycle of addiction can form that can become almost inescapable.

Furthermore, the erratic behaviors expressed by those struggling with simultaneous depression and substance use can result in social isolation, which further fuels both depression and addiction – potentially opening the door for self-harm or suicidal behavior. As the negative mental health consequences of addiction begin to take hold, insomnia, anxiety, mood changes, depression, PTSD, and other psychological issues, can become more acute.

Efforts to quit using alcohol or drugs often result in serious withdrawal effects, which can include hallucinations, tremors, worsened depression, and even heart attack or stroke. However, with professional treatment, and medical detoxification, those experiencing depression and addiction can find health and hope once again.

Treatment, Depression, and Substance Abuse

Depression is a powerful mental illness that can arise from any number of biological or environmental issues. It is not a battle that most people can fight alone. For those who have turned to alcohol or drugs to ease the pain of depression, getting help could be a matter of life and death. But there are many treatment options to help those struggling with depression and addiction find the support they deserve.

While a situation may seem hopeless to those trapped in addiction, treatment teams understand the different expressions of depressive disorders and know how to help combat the stigma that those coping with depression face in their daily lives.

With the help of resources such as 12-Step programs, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, group counseling, one-to-one therapy, stress management, spiritual services, clinical detoxification, treatment for physical ailments, and nutrition counseling, those living with depression can learn healthy coping strategies, and develop an effective support system for their recovery.

Payment Information

Resurgence Behavioral Health is here for you. We accept most PPO insurance and private forms of payment and will communicate with your insurance provider on your behalf, easing the transition into your recovery journey. Just call Resurgence at 855-458-0050 and experience a brighter tomorrow.

How to Get Help

Welcome to Resurgence Behavioral Health. We know that depression is painful, and our compassionate team understands that no two recovery stories are the same. Our experienced staff and caregivers understand what you’re facing, and will coach and support you along the way.

We can assist with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, prescription treatments, 12-Step programs, family counseling, one-to-one therapy, peer support, and many more strategies to help you finally experience the freedom from dependence that you deserve. And with locations in Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, and Fullerton Hills, as well as a beautiful Outpatient Campus, there is a safe and relaxing recovery environment closer than you think.

Our evidence-based programs will help empower your recovery, build your resilience, and inspire you to achieve your recovery goals. Call Resurgence today. Your time is now.

Does your Insurance Cover Rehab?

At Resurgence, we accept most PPO insurance. Verify your insurance now.