The Links Between Alcoholism and Depression
Table of Contents
- The Links Between Alcoholism and Depression
- Major Depressive Disorder and Drinking: By the Numbers
- Different Types of Depression
- What Are The Signs of Depression?
- The Dangers of Mental Health and Addiction
- What Are The Signs Of Alcohol Use Disorder?
- Withdrawal Symptoms Of Alcohol Use Disorder
- The Importance Of Rehab for Alcohol Use Disorders
- Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
- What Are The Treatment Options For Alcohol Addiction And Depression?
- The Importance of Medically Supervised Detox
- Effective Therapies for Major Depression and Alcohol Abuse
- Freedom From Addiction: Found Here
It is statistically proven that depression rates are higher among people who suffer from alcoholism and addiction. So much so, in fact, that there are entire treatment centers and rehabilitation facilities that are geared specifically toward people who suffer from a dual diagnosis, specifically depression, and alcoholism. One of the important but overlooked aspects of mental health problems is identifying when it is actually real.
Everyone has bad days sometimes, and sometimes people even have bad weeks or bad months. However, clinical depressive disorders are defined by their outlasting and debilitating nature on the sufferer. It can be so intense sometimes that it can drive people to extreme lengths.
For those who suffer from addiction as well as mental illness, depression can be an extremely good reason to enable their continued drug and alcohol abuse. Keep reading to find out more about depression and its relationship with alcohol misuse, and find effective methods of treatment and assistance here!
Major Depressive Disorder and Drinking: By the Numbers
According to drug and alcohol research gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a very high correlation between mental health conditions like clinical depression and substance misuse habits like alcoholism and addiction.
- The Journal of Clinical Medicine reports that one in three adults who struggle with drinking alcohol in excess or drug abuse also suffer from depression symptoms.
- Alcohol is involved in over a quarter of all suicides in the U.S.
- Suicide is 120 times more prevalent among adults with alcohol use disorders than the rest of the general population.
- Alcohol abusers have higher rates of both attempted and completed suicide than non-abusers.
- More than one-third of suicide victims used alcohol just before their death.
Many users find that, when they drink alcohol, this helps to calm and quiet those racing thoughts or depressive symptoms. However, sooner or later, the drugs and alcohol abuse will stop working, and this is when many people will start to consider self-harm, suicide, and other alternatives to combat their depression and mental health issues.
Different Types of Depression
It has become extremely common in our society today for people, alcoholic/addict or not, to struggle with depression or other psychiatric disorders. As depression has become one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in the US, research has shown that there are multiple different types and levels of depression. For example:
Persistent Depressive Disorder
A depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. People suffering from PDD may have episodes of major depression, followed by periods of less severe symptoms, but these symptoms must last at least 2 years to be PDD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
SADs symptoms are usually brought on during the winter months, this level of depression occurs when there is less sunlight and a person suffers from a lack of vitamin D. They can experience depressive symptoms such as weight gain, and loss of sleep, and will subside when spring comes.
This is a form of depression that occurs in women after having a baby. This condition can occur within the first year after delivery, but it usually develops within the first few weeks. Postpartum and perinatal depression affect about 15% of women within the first year after childbirth.
This form of depression is more common among women who have had a previous episode of postpartum depression or anxiety disorder (such as mood disorders), have experienced birth complications, or have a family history of mental health problems.
Dysthymic Disorder (Dysthymia)
This type of depression lasts for at least two years or causes symptoms that aren’t as serious as those for major depression but cause problems functioning in daily life. Symptoms include low self-esteem, poor appetite or overeating, sleeping too much or too little, low energy level, low motivation, and difficulty concentrating on everyday tasks for long periods of time.
Although bipolar disorder is different from depression, the low mood swings that someone with bipolar will experience will often closely resemble depression. Common underlying genetic factors can increase a person’s risk of developing bipolar disorder, as well as being raised in unstable and high-stress environments.
Some people with depression may experience hallucinations and delusional thinking, which can worsen depression and lead to impulsive or dangerous behaviors. This is referred to as psychotic depression and can put the person at an increased risk of self-harm during a major depressive episode.
What Are The Signs of Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness. Depression is not the same as being unhappy or in a bad mood. If you have depression, you may feel sad or anxious nearly every day, lose interest in activities you once enjoyed, and have trouble concentrating on work or school. You may lose energy and have no motivation to do things.
A depressed person might also experience changes in appetite and sleep, feel restless and irritable, or notice that they are easily upset by things that wouldn’t normally bother them. Your symptoms can vary from mild to severe — even in the same person at different times.
Depression can affect your thoughts, behavior, and physical health in a negative way. If left untreated, it can worsen and last for months or years. Signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, oversleeping (hypersomnia), and/or frequent sleeping during the day (reversed sleep patterns)
- Restlessness or irritability
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Overeating or appetite loss; weight gain or weight loss without trying; unintended weight loss from loss of muscle mass rather than fat
- Feeling as if your body is heavy; being slowed down; difficulty moving or feeling restless legs; “jelly” limbs
- Chronic aches
The Dangers of Mental Health and Addiction
Alcohol and depression are closely linked. The truth is that drug and alcohol dependence are closely intertwined with mental health conditions. Many who struggle with those conditions often develop a substance abuse habit as a means of trying to self-medicate. For someone struggling with alcohol abuse and simultaneous depression diagnosis, professional treatment and maintenance will be crucial for a successful recovery.
For those who are trying to maintain and nurture a healthy sober life, adding depression into the mix, or any co-occurring disorder for that matter can make this recovery process more difficult if they are not aware of how their symptoms will affect them.
If you are new to recovery, it will probably take a few months and a close eye to be able to distinguish your changes in mood from your sobering up process to your actual depression. Fortunately, if you are struggling with depression, alcohol does not have to be your only escape. There are various professional therapy and treatment programs available to help treat both your addiction and its underlying causes.
What Are The Signs Of Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition and not a character flaw. It has many causes, including genetics, the environment in which you were raised, and your own decisions. Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition that affects your brain chemistry. When you drink alcohol, it affects how certain nerves send and receive messages.
This can lead to tolerance (needing more alcohol to feel the same effect), alcohol dependence, and eventually, withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. If you have three or more of these symptoms within a 12-month period, you may have an alcohol or substance use disorder:
- Drinking more or for longer than intended.
- Wanting or trying to cut down alcohol consumption but not managing to do so.
- Spending time obtaining alcohol to binge drink, being intoxicated, or drinking so much that it negatively affects your job, family, studies, or other obligations.
- Alcohol cravings when not using it — for example, having intense cravings at night when going to sleep or during stressful situations.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, describes two types of alcohol use disorder:
- Alcohol abuse: Repeatedly using alcohol in situations where it’s physically hazardous (for example, driving while intoxicated) or when it causes problems at work, home, or school.
- Alcohol dependence: Continued drinking despite repeated efforts to stop or reduce it to the point that it causes problems in social, work, or recreational activities; having strong cravings for alcohol; needing more alcohol to feel its effects; experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you go without drinking for even a short time; and continuing to drink despite physical problems that develop because of your drinking.
Withdrawal Symptoms Of Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means it slows down activity in your brain and body. When you stop drinking suddenly, your body goes into overdrive as it tries to compensate for the lack of alcohol. In essence, alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur as the body attempts to return to its normal state.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are divided into two phases:
- Early Symptoms: These typically come on within 8 to 12 hours after your last drink. They include tremors, sweating, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and insomnia.
- Late Symptoms: These develop between 24 and 48 hours after your last drink. They include hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens (DTs). DTs can be life-threatening and require hospitalization.
The severity of alcohol withdrawal depends on how much alcohol you consume each day and how long you’ve been drinking. If you’re a light drinker who only consumes one drink per day over several years, your withdrawal will likely be less severe than someone who drinks heavily every day for many years straight.
The Importance Of Rehab for Alcohol Use Disorders
Rehab is an important part of the recovery process for people struggling with depression and alcohol addiction. A lot of people who are suffering from a depressive disorder also experience alcohol addiction. It’s not uncommon for those suffering from one to suffer from the other as well. Rehab can help both conditions at once, which is why it’s so important to seek treatment.
When someone is depressed, they may be tempted to self-medicate using alcohol or other drugs. This can lead to further problems involving substance abuse and depression. In some cases, it can even lead to suicide attempts or death by overdose.
Alcohol Treatment Centers offer a safe place where both conditions can be treated together in a way that works for each individual patient using clinical and experimental research techniques and treatment processes. The staff members at these facilities are trained to help people work through their issues so that they can get back on track with their lives again after leaving rehab
Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
When seeking treatment for depression and alcohol use, you will be met with two major options; inpatient and outpatient treatment. It is important to understand what these two treatment options represent and consist of. Knowing which one applies best to your case will be the best chance you have of controlling and curing your depression and alcohol use disorder.
Inpatient rehab treatment is the most intensive level of care. It may be the best option for people who need a comprehensive recovery program that includes medically supervised detoxification (detox), behavioral therapy for treating depression, and individualized aftercare planning. Inpatient treatment offers intensive rehabilitation that can lead to lasting recovery.
Inpatient treatment often involves a psychological evaluation to determine if you are medically stable enough to participate in the program. Your medical history will be reviewed, including any previous hospitalizations or surgical procedures.
In addition to medical concerns, psychological screening can help identify comorbid disorders that may require additional disorder treatment while inpatient or after discharge from treatment. Screening typically includes questions about symptoms related to depressive disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other problems that may interfere with recovery efforts during treatment or aftercare services once you leave the program.
Seeking Services on an Outpatient Basis
Outpatient rehab is a drug and alcohol treatment program that allows clients to live at home while attending treatment. This may include partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs, as well as 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Outpatient rehab can be an excellent option for people who are unable to commit to an inpatient rehab center for an extended period of time.
The main difference between outpatient and inpatient care is that inpatient treatment takes place within the confines of a medical facility. In most cases, patients must check into an inpatient facility for at least three months or longer. Outpatient treatment takes place outside of these facilities and allows patients to continue living at home or going to school as they work through their addiction issues.
Outpatient rehab programs are typically less expensive than inpatient ones and allow patients to continue with their daily lives while working on their recovery. However, if your depression and alcohol addiction has taken on a severe form and are advanced in nature, the treatment process may require the intervention of inpatient treatment to ensure success.
What Are The Treatment Options For Alcohol Addiction And Depression?
The decision to seek rehabilitative treatment for Alcohol addiction and depression is incredibly important. There are several various options that high-quality facilities may employ to help ensure that long-term sobriety is achieved. These may include:
- Medical Detox
- Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
- Behavioral Therapies
- Recovery Support Groups
- Medication-Assisted Treatment
The Importance of Medically Supervised Detox
The detox process is the first step in any rehabilitation program. It’s a lot like the process of withdrawing from any other addiction: You go through a period of intense discomfort as you get accustomed to the absence of your old drinking habits, followed by a period of recovery.
The detox process takes place in a safe, controlled environment where medical professionals monitor your progress and make sure you don’t experience any dangerous symptoms of withdrawal.
They may also use addiction medicine to help ease the symptoms or manage them if they become severe. The detox process can take anywhere from two days to two weeks, depending on how long you were addicted to drugs or alcohol and how much you were using each day.
Effective Therapies for Major Depression and Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol use disorders, and substance abuse in general, usually are a result of a depressive disorder or mental health struggles in general. As such, it is common for someone with a drug addiction to have co-occurring depression.
The symptoms of depression, once observed, will result in a treatment regimen or therapy that occurs post-detox. The detox process must be completed before therapy begins. In essence, this phase of the treatment process seeks to address the underlying issues that may have led to the alcohol-related problems in the first place.
The most popular types of behavioral therapies used to treat those who are depression diagnosed include:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This approach helps people change their thoughts and behaviors. For example, CBT can help you see that drinking is not related to your problems. Instead, it’s the cause of them. You’ll learn how to create a list of healthy alternatives for dealing with stress and other issues that might lead you to drink again.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – DBT is a treatment designed to help those struggling with borderline personality disorder (BPD) learn skills for dealing with intense emotions, regulating actions, and improving relationships. A DBT mental health counselor teaches skills such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and self-acceptance.
There are various in-person and online therapy services in addition to those listed above that can help address both your addiction and depression simultaneously. It can be difficult to make the decision to begin therapy and other pharmacological treatments for these co-occurring disorders, but doing so will be the first and most important step on your path to recovery.
The Find Addiction Rehabs team can help you find a treatment provider that can provide you with the addiction and depression treatment you need to take back control over your life and become a happier, healthier, and substance-free you.
Freedom From Addiction: Found Here
If you have found yourself or a loved one suffering from alcoholism or addiction, you are not alone! If you are ready to change your life and live free of addiction, then Find Addiction Rehabs can help.
We give you a jump start to recovery by matching your needs and preferences with top treatment providers nationwide. Our dedicated recovery representatives can confidentially give you options within minutes, so please don’t hesitate to reach out now!
Charles F. has been an active part of the Florida recovery community for over 5 years. He began as a behavioral health technician at an addiction treatment facility in Ocala, Florida and has since begun training as a Licensed Addiction and Chemical Dependency counselor in Boca Raton. Charles’ passion involves the promotion of recovery and helping spread the hope of recovery to as many readers as possible!