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Diagnosing Addiction and Depression: Common Co-Existing Disorders

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Diagnosing Addiction and Depression: Common Co-Existing Disorders

Why are Addiction and Depression Often Linked To One Another

Addiction and depression are common co-existing disorders because of the way one can encourage the other. Individuals suffering from addiction and depression often feel hopeless and isolated from the rest of the world. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 15 million people in America experience depression every year. In the absence of treatment, individuals often seek out drugs and alcohol to soothe their condition. This act of self-medication does little good because as soon as the drug or alcohol wears off, the depression becomes more problematic. It can reach a point where without the substance to ease their depression, they feel as if they cannot cope. This form of mental addiction can be devastating to a person’s long-term wellbeing.

The Connection Between Addiction and Depression

Some substances such as alcohol and opiates such as heroin can cause a person to experience depression as a result of an addiction to the substance. This happens because of a physical dependence that forms resulting in withdrawal symptoms that include depression and anxiety. Chemical changes also take place in the individual’s brain that causes an imbalance that can make it impossible for the person to come out of their depression. For example, opiate addiction causes the reward centers of the brain to produce less dopamine and serotonin naturally until it reaches a point where without the drug, they cannot feel any pleasure.

 Does depression start before addiction?

In some cases, a person can have clinical depression before they start to use any drugs or alcohol. In these cases, the person often turns to substances because they do not know how else to cope with their mental illness. The addiction makes the depression even worse and a dual diagnosis approach is necessary to treat such a case. Dual diagnosis aims to treat both the addiction and depression simultaneously in an effort to prevent relapse.

Can Addiction cause Depression?

Many substances such as cocaine, meth, heroin and alcohol can bring on a depression in a person. Many times this can be rectified by treatment for addiction and providing the patient with alternative coping skills for the stressors of life. Depression is a part of an addiction to many drugs such as heroin and is commonly experienced by many substance abusers.

 Types of Depression

A depression can be characterized in different categories depending on the circumstances, duration and severity. The following looks at several types of depression commonly seen in the medical field:

∙         Persistent – This type of depression, also known as dysthymia, occurs when a patient feels low moods that persist for two or more years. They are often seen as being moody, gloomy and irritable. The effects of the condition can be as severe as a major depression even thought he symptoms may not be as severe.

∙         Major – Known as a major depression disorder (MDD), occurs when a person experiences a depressed mood for at least two weeks along with four other symptoms including suicidal thoughts, sleep problems, low physical energy and low self-esteem or self-worth.

∙         Bi-polar – This is a condition that causes the person to experience extreme highs followed by extreme lows. The highs are often marked with impulsive behavior and high energy levels. The lows can last for a few months with only short episodes of high energy. Diagnosing this disorder can be difficult as the individual’s moods have to be monitored for a period.

∙         Postpartum – This occurs in women mostly after having a baby. According to the American Psychological society, around 16 percent of women will experience this form of depression after giving birth. Many factors can play a role in this form of depression such as the person’s financial position, fluctuating hormones, nutritional deficiencies and exposure to chemicals.

While addiction and depression can become a never-ending cycle, professional treatment is available at rehab centers across the country. They can help both men and women break the cycle and find happiness and satisfaction in a substance-free lifestyle.

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