Tag Archives: depression

Tag Archives: depression


Woman working through depression and addiction recoveryWhen we’re struggling with depression, it can seem like nothing is going to get better. We can barely make it out of bed, we smile when we’re really feeling low and we can feel utterly hopeless. As the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) states, depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. For those who don’t receive treatment for it, depression can make daily life nearly unbearable. Add that to addiction recovery, and it may feel like you’re living constantly in a whirlwind of emotions; the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) claims that of those with depression, 20% experience a substance use disorder (SUD) as well. If you’re going through both, you’re not alone – but you have to seek help in order to effectively work through it.

How Depression Affects Recovery

When we’re recovering from addiction, we’re already experiencing a plethora of thoughts and emotions. Many people, during the first year of recovery, go through periods where they feel excited and ready to embark on their sobriety journey – with other periods of time bringing them anxiety and grief over the major changes that have taken place in their lives. In 2013, researchers concluded that addiction recovery and depression brought about some similar symptoms, especially in areas of the brain that control stress responses.

The following are some other symptoms that can truly complicate addiction recovery:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Loss of energy
  • And more

One person shared their story of depression via the National Institute on Mental Illness (NAMI). Here is an excerpt from their story:

“I have depression and my internal monologue still chastises myself for being lazy or just to snap out of it…I am not kind to myself…no matter what I am told.”

Thankfully, there are so many effective forms of treatment for both depression and SUDs. For many, the biggest step is simply seeking it out – and attending.

Treating Depression and Addiction at the Same Time

Co-occurring disorders occur when a person has both a mental illness and an addiction at the same time. It’s not uncommon for a person to have a co-occurring disorder, but it is important they seek help for both at once. In some cases, a person with depression may drink or use substances in an attempt to abate the symptoms of their mental illness; in others, a person with a SUD may develop symptoms of depression over time. For those that drink to reduce depressive symptoms, it can feel discomforting to change both thinking and behavioral patterns in recovery. Dr. Maclsaac, a psychologist in New York, told Everyday Health,

“They cling to drinking because they are terrified of losing that negativity.”

Both addiction and depression can become comforting over time, because our brain has come to crave what’s it’s been feeding into. In order to break these chains, however, formal treatment and support must be sought after. Douglas Bloch, M.A., is an author, teacher and counselor who talks about mental illness and addiction recovery on his website, HealingFromDepression.com. He explains that to him, depression can be treated in a similar fashion to the principles of 12-Step programs.

He explains that just as a person must admit they were powerless over alcohol (or another substance), a person cannot “snap out of” depression. By applying the steps that 12-Step programs emphasize, a person can work through what has previously held them back. In addition to mutual support groups, depression can be treated through therapy and support from a formal treatment program.

The following are some of the most effective approaches to those with depression in addiction recovery:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – an approach that helps those with depression, SUDs and more work through negative thought patterns so they can start changing them into newer, healthier patterns.
  • Holistic practices – just as with a SUD, depression can affect a person’s mind, body and spirit. Practices such as praying, meditating, yoga and more can alter brain activity for the better – previous studies have shown how powerful these practices can have on a person’s life.
  • Activity – releasing the stress hormone cortisol can not only help a person feel better, but can even help a person become stronger. Some activities in recovery – such as rock climbing and equine therapy (horse therapy) – can even help people connect with other people, other animals and themselves, better.

Seeking Support

Support is a crucial part of recovery. Those with depression tend to isolate themselves but being around others who care about them is truly the best thing for them. Supportive peers, group leaders, sponsors, therapists and more can all play a part in depression and SUD recovery. In many cases, even helping others through volunteer work can open a door full of opportunities for strength building, confidence and connection.

If you’ve been struggling with depression and addiction, don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need. Recovery is right around the corner – it’s time to get your life back on track.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

What Does It Mean?

When two disorders occur at the same time, it is called comorbidity, dual diagnosis or also co-occurring disorders. Each person’s experience with mental disorders and/or substance use disorders (SUDs) are different, which means that sometimes, one could occur before the other; on the other hand, one could exacerbate symptoms of another. It becomes tricky to safely manage both at the same time, which is why having a healthcare team could be the safest option for moving forward in recovery. According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it’s not all that uncommon for a person to experience both a mental disorder, such as depression and an addiction, such as alcoholism, at the same time. In fact, previous research tells us that those with mood or anxiety disorders are twice as likely to abuse substances as well – why is this?

Masking the Symptoms with Substances: Self-Medication

When we’re caught in the whirlwind of life and symptoms of a mental illness arise, it makes sense that we’d do anything to make those symptoms go away. Just like most people don’t enjoy rushing to the doctor, however, many people try to “treat” their mental illness with something else – often substances – to mask the symptoms so they don’t cause as much distress. For example, a person who has social anxiety may begin feeling very nervous about meeting up with friends; by drinking alcohol often, they may feel that pressure to “fit in” or that overall nervousness fade away.

In fact, a 2016 study published by a researcher from Yale University found that many people choose alcohol or marijuana to self-medicate because they feel those are the least addictive substances to use; furthermore, they tend to feel as though they have more control over their substance use, and the effects are found more favorable as well. The problem with this, however, is that the brain is wired to feel good. We have a chemical in our brain called dopamine, and whenever something releases this chemical (such as food, sex, drugs, shopping, gambling, etc.), that memory gets stored as a pleasant one. It seems harmless at the time, but our brain remembers that moment and may recall it again – and that’s when the cycle of dependence and addiction begin.

Managing Both at Once: Tips for Recovery

Recovery is a courageous endeavor and one that could change your life for the better. There’s no one “right way” to recover, so you truly have to find what works best for you. For many people, however, recovery should include a strict schedule. Depression and substance dependence each tend to have their own competing schedules, but you are not your disorders – and you need to create a routine that continues no matter which disorder decides to butt in.

CBT

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can greatly help with both disorders. This type of therapy approach helps us to identify old, negative thought patterns, while giving us insight into how much importance we’re placing on those thoughts and if we really need to be giving them much importance considering the effect it’s having on our happiness and health. With CBT, we’re given the tools to identify which thoughts we’d like to place emphasis on – which ones will be most beneficial to us.

Nutrition/Exercise

Depression really manifests itself through low energy, irritability, sadness and hopelessness, isolation and more. On top of that, substance abuse can cause us to eat less (or eat more unhealthy foods), sleep less, exercise less and damage some of the vital organs that are used to absorb what nutrients we do obtain from our daily diet. Depression festers in its own way, which can even include difficulty with hygiene. Combine these effects with detoxification/addiction recovery and you may experience an aftermath that’s pretty uncomfortable – exercise and nutrition are what should be used to help counteract this.

In an article titled, “The Role of Nutrition in Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Addiction”, several key suggestions for nutrition were made:

  • Grains, fruits and vegetables
  • Tofu, kale and other foods rich in calcium (including dairy products)
  • Meat, fish or tofu for protein
  • Good fatty oils such as canola, olive, flaxseed

Spirituality

Despite the way depression or detox make be causing you to feel, you need to surround yourself with love, positivity, support and hope. Research has shown us time and time again that these elements bring back our livelihood – they connect us to something bigger than ourselves. They help us find our bigger purpose in life and in doing so, can help us move forward from some of the emotional wounds we’ve developed over the years. Mahatma Gandhi expressed this very notion when he once stated, “We cannot, in a moment, get rid of habits of a lifetime.”

The emotional walls we’ve put up, the way we’ve closed ourselves in, the opportunities we’ve passed, the loved ones we’ve hurt and the substances we’ve relied on can only be healed by choosing to move forward and spirituality can help us understand just how little control we have over the world. By connecting with God, or a Higher Power, we can find strength in knowing that we’re exactly where we need to be – one step at a time.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

How Is Opioid Abuse and Depression Affecting Our Teens?The opioid crisis has sparked a national conversation on opioid use and the amount of help we’re providing to our communities. Teens are especially at risk for this; the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has emphasized the fact that many adolescents are mixing opioids with other drugs. Of those who do this, a survey found that 58.5% are taking opioids alongside marijuana, 52.1% alongside alcohol, 10.6% along with cocaine, 10.3% with tranquilizers, and 9.5% with amphetamines. About 1 in 8 high school seniors have reported using opioids for non-medical reasons, which places them at an increased risk for abuse and overdose. We can’t always know the effect that certain drugs will have on us and combining them with other substances makes it an even riskier situation.

In 2015, the results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health were assessed. Adolescent reports showed that major depressive episodes are quite common in teens, and this can occur alongside periods of opioid use. For some, the substance abuse occurs unexpectedly – sports injuries, medical conditions and other related issues make chronic pain and real problem, and prescribed opioids are meant to help relieve some of that discomfort. Since they produce such great feelings of relaxation, however, it’s hard not to become hooked to them – and before you know it, your teen is taking their medication in higher doses or more often than they were originally advised.

Teens with depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and sleep disorders were found to be at higher risk for developing opioid dependence, so it’s critical that we start keeping a close eye on our youth. Parents who use opioids may also increase their teens’ chances of using by simply making that type of medication more accessible – even if that was unintended. As the teen brain develops, it’s important they seek help if substance abuse occurs. The quicker help is sought, the more likely they are to mitigate some of the potential risks that abuse can cause to the brain and body.

What else can be done to help prevent opioid abuse in teens? Well, if your teen is taking any kind of medication at all, make sure they attend regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments. Monitor their medication use, and keep an eye out for symptoms of abuse, such as sudden changes in appearance, behavior, eating or sleeping patterns. Adolescents aren’t always able to look out for themselves, and this is where we step in.


Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966, and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-844-ARCH-ORG.


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