Do Depression and Alcohol Abuse Go Hand-In-Hand?
The short answer is, yes. According to the National Institute of Health Sciences, approximately one out of every three people with major depression exhibit signs of alcohol abuse. When life seems impossibly bleak, drugs and alcohol offer people who are addicted a temporary (if false) escape from the pain of everyday life.
However, this escape often makes the underlying problem worse. Alcohol, for example, is classified as a depressant and can often make the user more depressed than they were before. Some alcoholics feel that the only thing that will make them feel better is more alcohol, starting a vicious cycle where the addict feels trapped, feels even worse, and turns to alcohol again for false relief.
But there is hope. By dealing with underlying problems, including depression, through therapy and psychoactive drugs, those who are addicted to alcohol can break the cycle and lead happy and productive lives.
Fortunately, both alcohol addiction and depression are treatable.
What Is Depression And What Are The Symptoms Of Depression?
Depression is a difficult to define yet common disease that affects approximately 15 percent of all people. It is characterized by feelings of sadness, melancholy, or worthlessness that lasts more than two weeks, exists for most or all of this time, and represents a distinct change from how the individual felt previously.
Depression is not grief or sadness, which are natural parts of human psychology. Sadness and grief come in waves, while depression is consistent. Depression also generally comes with feelings of self-loathing and lowered self-esteem.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Not finding joy or pleasure in things that the sufferer once liked
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- A persistent melancholy or depressed mood
- Sleeping disorders— not sleeping or sleeping too much
- Feelings of worthlessness or emptiness
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulties in concentration or decision making
What Are The Symptoms Of Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are characterized by drinking that negatively affects the user’s life and relationships. If your drinking regularly and negatively affects your everyday life, you likely have a drinking disorder and may be addicted. Some symptoms of alcohol abuse disorder include:
- Unsuccessful attempts to limit the amount of alcohol consumed
- Unsafe use of alcohol, including driving while intoxicated
- Strong cravings to drink
- Neglecting responsibilities due to drinking or the after effects, including child rearing responsibilities and work
- Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking (“The shakes”, delirium, sweating, irritability, etc.)
- Discontinuing doing things that were fun and healthy, such as hobbies and relationships, to drink alcohol
How Are Depression And Alcoholism Intertwined?
Whether problem drinking leads to depression or depression leads to problem drinking is a bit of a chicken and the egg question. Psychologists know that teens who are depressed are more likely to start drinking, but we also know alcohol is a depressant and its effects often make people depressed.
It’s safe to say these two diseases go hand-in-hand, and they can create a vicious cycle in the user. Those with depression often turn to alcohol for (false or temporary) relief from depression, and those who drink to excess are often depressed.
There is a very clear and strong link between the two.
How Are Depression And Alcohol Abuse Treated?
So what is to be done? One of the most important factors in treating alcohol abuse is treating the underlying factors and triggers for this abuse, including depression. Fortunately, depression is a very treatable disease. Two of the most common methods of treatment for depression are psychological talk therapy and medication.
Talk therapy consists of individual or group therapies and counseling, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Psychologists or other counselors will talk to a person suffering from depression and offer strategies and other methods to combat these feelings.
There are also a wide variety of medicinal antidepressants available, including medications like Welburtin, SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), and TCAs (Tricyclic Antidepressants). Some drugs work better for some people than others, but there are a wide variety to choose from that can be prescribed by a doctor.
Need Help? Contact Us Today
If you need help with alcohol or substance abuse treatment contact us at Riverwalk Recovery. We are experts in treating alcoholism and other substance abuse disorders and always work to treat underlying issues such as depression. Give us a call today at (423) 264-2600 and let us help you or your loved one get on the road to recovery.