People drink alcohol to relax after a long day, and it’s fine to have a drink once in a while. However, others drink to cover up their problems or symptoms of an illness. This behavior is at the core of the mental health drug addiction connection. For this reason, it’s important for people to understand how alcohol and depression affect each other.
The Connection Between Alcohol and Depression
A lot of people question whether depression leads to drinking or alcohol abuse leads to depression. Unfortunately, it can work both ways, and each condition makes the other worse.
When people have depression, they’re likely to self-medicate with alcohol. This mental disorder involves continuous feelings of hopelessness and sadness. These emotions influence how people think and behave, and they interfere with every aspect of people’s lives.
In order to get relief, people may drink. Over time, though, drinking becomes the only way that they know how to cope with depression. Then, this behavior leads to the development of alcohol addiction.
On the other hand, heavy drinking changes the chemical balance in the brain. The abnormally high or low levels of certain chemicals affect people’s emotional and physical well-being. In fact, they can experience symptoms of depression. Other health issues might develop as well.
Types of Depression
Whether or not alcohol and depression occur together, there are several forms of depression. Major depressive disorder involves severe symptoms that prevent people from performing everyday activities. Persistent depressive disorder involves a depressive mood that lingers for at least two years. Sometimes, it lasts for life.
Psychotic depression is the combination of severe depression and a form of psychosis. The psychosis might involve visual or auditory hallucinations. Delusions and false beliefs are also possible.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that usually occurs during late fall and throughout winter. It often develops because of the fewer sunlight hours during the day. However, some people develop SAD during the summer.
Postpartum depression is the result of the physical and hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy and giving birth. Also, the sudden burden of caring for a baby makes the depression worse.
Treating Alcohol Abuse and Depression
The best way to get help for these problems is to seek women’s or mens mental health treatment programs. Treatment centers use these programs to address the specific needs of women and men. In order to do that, they choose the services according to each person’s needs.
However, treating alcohol abuse and depression requires dual diagnosis treatment. As part of this program, most people receive two key services.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches them how negative thought patterns and emotions contribute to their problems. Then, it guides them to change these aspects to improve their symptoms and behaviors.
However, people can’t focus in CBT sessions if their symptoms are in the way. Medication-assisted treatment involves combining medicine with therapy. While some medicines reduce alcohol cravings, others control depression symptoms.
Although these are the most common treatments, more services are available. For instance, a depression and alcohol addiction treatment program may include:
- Group therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Trauma counseling
- Nutrition therapy
- 12-step and SMART Recovery programs
Get Treatment Today
Don’t let alcohol and depression smother your happiness. Find a rehab center that offers dual diagnosis treatment. Take this first step toward your recovery today.