Depression affects millions of people, and for those suffering from it, even the most basic aspects of life can be hugely challenging. Unfortunately, depression is a common consequence of addiction, and can make both treatment and recovery substantially more difficult.
What Is Depression?
The term “depression” typically refers to
- a low mood (often combined with a pronounced apathy), which can be a normal temporary reaction to negative events and experiences such as bereavement;
- and major depressive disorder (MDD – also sometimes known as clinical depression, major depression and unipolar disorder) – a mental disorder characterised by long periods of the aforementioned low mood combined with low levels of energy and self-esteem, and an inability to participate in previously enjoyed activities.
Despite being far from uncommon in society today, much confusion exists as to the nature of depression and regarding the difference between a depressed mood and major depressive disorder. For the purposes of this article, “depression” will be used to describe major depressive order specifically.
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What Causes Depression?
Depression is known to have various causes, which can be a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors. A family history of depression is one of the most prominent risk factors:- approximately 40% of the risk appears to be genetic. Chronic health problems, major life events (including bereavement, divorce, and redundancy), as well as substance abuse and addiction are all factors commonly encountered in cases of depression.
Depression as an Addiction Symptom
Depression is commonly associated with addiction as both cause and effect. Individuals suffering from depression are significantly more likely to engage in substance abuse and to develop addictions. Addiction itself is a prominent risk factor in the development of depression, both as a result of the direct effects of psychoactive substances upon the brain, and because of the negative impact upon an individual’s life and life prospects which addiction typically has.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
Someone suffering from depression will typically experience a very low mood affecting every aspect of their daily life, and will be unable to take pleasure even in activities they have previously greatly enjoyed. They may be unable to shake negative thoughts and feelings of guilt, despair, self-loathing and worthlessness and be plagued by thoughts of suicide, insomnia, fatigue, suffer lowered libido, irritability, and possibly physical symptoms including headaches and digestive problems. People affected by depression may also engage in substance abuse, as well as develop a range of other mental and/or emotional disorders.
What Are the Types of Depression?
Because every individual is unique, the way depression manifests may differ from one case to the next. Nevertheless, the medical community has identified a number of different types or categories of depression which have been given their own diagnostic frameworks. They include: major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), psychotic depression, peripartum or postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), situational depression and atypical depression.
How Is Depression Diagnosed?
Usually, depression would be diagnosed by a GP, psychologist or another relevant specialist. Assessment may be based on one of various rating scales, though rating scale scores by themselves are not usually considered sufficient to form a diagnosis of depression. Other causes – such as hormonal or metabolic imbalance – may need to be ruled out, so blood tests are not atypical despite depression’s classification as a mood disorder.
How Is Depression Treated?
Various antidepressant medications have been developed in recent decades, some of which have become well-known well beyond the medical community. Although some undesirable side-effects have been associated with antidepressants, they remain standard treatment in many cases. Psychotherapy is also considered a core aspect of the treatment of depression, just as it is for addiction. In cases where addiction and depression co-occur, a holistic treatment plan will typically be provided, possibly as part of a stay in residential rehabilitation.
Ready to Get Help for Your Addiction?
If you are suffering from an addiction and have developed depression as a result, or indeed if your depression has been a factor in your addiction, you need professional help to tackle both conditions. Cases of dual diagnosis are often more complex than simple cases of addiction and it is better to find specialist expertise if possible.
Take control of your life – get started on the road to recovery
Depression can be a truly debilitating disorder – especially in combination with addiction – but with the right help you can take back control and start living life to the full again. Contact your GP and/or an addiction specialist to take the first steps back to happiness.
Get help today
Help is out there: many facilities now provide addiction treatment across the country. Don’t allow addiction and depression to take away any more of your time – contact your GP and/or an addiction specialist today to discuss treatment options which may be available to you.
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