Depression is a debilitating mental illness that is also unfortunately very common. The condition goes far beyond normal periods of sadness or “feeling blue,” to a chronic, persistent feelings of emptiness, hopelessness and loneliness.
Depression interferes with daily activities and directly impacts your quality of life. Depression also has a strong link to substance use disorders, as many people turn to drugs or alcohol to “manage” the symptoms of depression. Abuse of substances can also stimulate the onset of depression in some individuals, or make a current illness much worse.
Symptoms of Depression
Symptoms of depression include the following:
Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness or helplessness
A feeling that things will never get any better
Fixation on past failures or persistent feelings of guilt or worthlessness
Loss of interest in work, hobbies, relationships or sex
Changes in sleeping and eating habits
Feeling sapped of energy, making it difficult to complete daily tasks
Lack of mental focus, difficulty concentrating
Physical pain, such as headaches or backaches, without a medical cause
Suicidal thoughts, ideations or attempts
It is important to see a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, particularly if those symptoms are interfering with your daily life. Because there is a high incidence of substance use disorder in people that are clinically depressed, getting help for the mental illness as soon as possible may help to prevent a substance use disorder from developing.
Treatment for Depression
There are a number of different ways depression might be treated today:
Antidepressant medications can be effective in curbing symptoms of depression, but patients may need to try more than one medication before they find the one that works the best for them.
Therapy techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy may help a patient identify negative thoughts and behaviors and make healthy replacements. Some types of psychotherapy may also help you develop positive, healthy relationships with others and learn better ways to cope with stress and other issues.
Brain Stimulation Therapies
This type of therapy employs various techniques for addressing symptoms of severe depression when medication and psychotherapy do not prove effective. Common treatments include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).
Depression and Substance Abuse
About 20 percent of those diagnosed with depression also have a substance use disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. By the same token, around 20 percent of those with a substance use disorder also suffer from depression. Because the two are closely related, it is important to screen patients for both conditions even if they claim to have just one. When both conditions are diagnosed, treatment must be aimed at treating both disorders simultaneously to ensure the best odds of a successful recovery. To learn more about depression and how it might impact substance use disorders, contact Treatment Now.