It is fairly common for those who have broken away from addiction to have to deal with periods of depression in recovery. In many of these cases, the individual may have turned to substance abuse in the first place because they were dealing with the symptoms of depression, although they might not have been aware of what was causing these symptoms at the time.
The Danger of Depression in Recovery
Depression can suck all the joy out of sobriety and can mean that life feels almost as much of a struggle as it did when in the midst of addiction. The good news is that there are effective treatments available for dealing with this condition, so long as the person is willing to seek out appropriate help.
One of the biggest dangers with depression in recovery is that the individual may become completely disillusioned with sobriety as a result. If they do not understand that their dissatisfaction with life is due to mental illness, they could just blame it on their new life. This could then mean that the person not only relapses, but also they make up their mind to never make another attempt at sobriety.
The other risk with depression in recovery is that the individual may decide that they are doing something wrong. If they belong to a fellowship group, they may even have other members telling them that they need to work harder at the programme; this type of advice may be given in good faith, but it can be dangerously wrong. If you are struggling with depression but decide it is due to you doing something wrong, it could end up making things much worse.
The Symptoms of Depression in Recovery
There are many individuals in recovery suffering with depression without even realising it, so it is important to be able to identify it; the only want to escape these symptoms is to have them properly treated. The type of thing that those with depression can experience includes:
- fuzzy thinking
- lack of energy
- difficulty concentrating
- loss or increase in appetite (comfort eating)
- pessimism about the future
- feeling hopeless
- difficulty remembering things
- loss of interest in things normally enjoyed
- aches and pains with no obvious cause
- digestive problems with no obvious cause
- suicidal thoughts
- feeling of emptiness and lack of purpose
- wanting to spend increasing amounts of time alone
It is possible to experience some of these symptoms (for example, fuzzy thinking and insomnia) as part of post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), but it is always a good idea to speak to a doctor if there is any chance you might be depressed.
How to Manage Sobriety if You Are Suffering From Depression
If you are dealing with depression, it is vital that you get the right type of help; this is a serious condition, so you do not want to be depending on advice from those who are not qualified to give it. Speak to your doctor so you can begin some type of treatment. Once your depression is brought under control, your life in recovery is sure to improve greatly.
There is a strong link between depression and alcoholism, but there are many resources available for people in this situation. You will find plenty of information online, but it is always important to consider the reliability of any advice you are receiving. If you are unsure about anything, you should always double-check with your doctor.