The Link Between Alcohol and Depression

Jan 2020 The Link Between Alcohol and Depression

When people reach their capacity to tolerate or process situations and emotions, it’s popular to suggest needing a drink jokingly. Commonly referred to as “taking the edge off,” using alcohol to self-medicate can take a wrong turn fast. When people suffer from depression, the abuse of alcohol can quickly become a crutch. Used to find relief from feeling pushed even lower by dark thoughts, alcohol abuse often evolves into dependency and addiction

The combination of alcohol and depression causes many to engage in self-destructive behavior. Often, these behaviors can be harmful to oneself and others. Alcohol tends to worsen the symptoms of depression, even though some may feel briefly relieved after the first drink. However, this intermission will not last long, and when it is over, things may even be worse than before. 

When a person with an alcohol addiction suffers from depression, it is common to experience worsening symptoms of either disease. The correlation between these two illnesses is seen more often and requires rehab for alcohol and depression simultaneously. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from a substance use disorder or psychological illness, professional treatment is detrimental. If left untreated, rehab centers for alcohol and depression often see debilitating physical and psychological trauma on life quality. Unfortunately, if not properly cared for, the results can be devastating. Often the consequence of ignoring the need for rehab treatment culminates self-harm, becoming a danger to others, or even suicide.  

Understanding an Alcohol Use Disorder 

People with severe drinking problems are diagnosed with an illness known as an alcohol use disorder. An alcohol use disorder, or AUD, manifests itself through the persistent and compulsive consumption of alcohol. Combined with a lack of control over how much you consume, and feeling negative whenever not drinking, AUD’s inevitably escalate. 

There are nearly six million people in the U.S. who suffer from an alcohol use disorder. Because alcohol is so easily available to those of a certain age, alcoholism has all the necessary means to thrive. Those with this condition typically exhibit the following symptoms needing urgent attention:

  • An inability to limit their alcohol intake in one sitting
  • Frequenting locations where alcohol is served
  • Drinking more often despite reason or occasion
  • Giving up on or avoiding work, school or responsibilities to drink
  • Neglecting relationships because of excessive alcohol use
  • Failing in attempts to cut back on drinking
  • Acting or speaking aggressively when refused or warned of intoxication
  • Building a growing tolerance to alcohol requiring more before effects take hold
  • Feeling withdrawal symptoms whenever abstaining from alcohol
  • Spending valuable finances on procuring alcohol to support addiction habits
  • Refusal to attend events where alcohol is prohibited or not being served

The symptoms of alcohol use can vary in severity from person to person. A few people are even able to hide it for a period of time. Some people can function without issue at work or school, while others completely fall apart. This is what is known as a functioning alcoholic. Regardless of being able to maintain obligations, if a few of the other signs are present, an AUD is likely. It may also be disguised by certain symptoms of depression.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a treatable mental disorder that affects the way people feel, think, and act. It causes feelings of sadness and depressed mood. Usually, a person suffering from depression will lack interest in hobbies and activities that were at one time previously enjoyed. 

Depression is different than what would be considered normal reactions of grief or sadness. It is regarded as sustained feelings of chronic hopelessness that last for more than a two week period of time. 

People with depression experience the effects for long time periods without relief and may feel too defeated to seek help. Under certain circumstances, it can be very debilitating. It is important to know and be aware of the symptoms of depression in order to get a proper diagnosis. Speak with your doctor, or a professional at a rehab for alcohol and depression, if experiencing worrisome symptoms. 

Some common symptoms of depression include:

  • Problems with sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • A loss of energy
  • Feelings of fatigue or persistent exhaustion
  • Engaging in physical actions like pacing or hand-wringing
  • Slowed movement or speech
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • An inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Persistent thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or low self-worth

Patients must see a medical professional to confirm a diagnosis of depression. It can mimic the effects of other medical conditions like brain tumors or thyroid problems. A doctor can rule out any other causes of depression-like illnesses. They may also recognize any ties between depression and alcohol abuse.

Alcohol and Depression Can Co-Occur 

People who suffer from depression are more than likely willing to do anything to feel better. That includes abusing substances to experience a short time span of relief. Especially troublesome with feelings of overwhelming persistent sadness. In many cases, the convenience and availability of alcohol make its use a popular outlet. 

Because alcohol can produce sedating effects, it is often recklessly implemented as a means of coping. With depression, abusing alcohol may begin to happen often if it has led to experiencing relief even once. However, it is just a temporary distraction. Inevitably, after making alcohol use a habit, a dependency will develop. When someone suffers from depression and frequently relies on alcohol abuse at the same time, a dual diagnosis is suspected. 

Alcoholism, by itself, will have negative effects in most areas of a person’s life. Similarly, depressive feelings make activities more difficult to enjoy or participate in, leading to difficulty with motivation and comfort. When one or more psychological illnesses are experienced at the same time that require treatment, it’s considered having a dual diagnosis.  

Risks of Alcohol Dependency When Diagnosed with Depression

Within a short amount of time, a person suffering from depression will need to ingest more alcohol to achieve the desired effects. Building up a tolerance to alcohol can happen quickly when being used more and more often. However, the more alcohol ingested, the more severe the alcohol addiction becomes; this often leads to worsening depression. 

It has been found that around one-third of individuals diagnosed with depression will develop a substance abuse disorder. Hoping to suppress the symptoms of their psychological illness with alcohol only ends up making matters worse. This only further allows the cycle to continue requiring treatment from a rehab center for alcohol and depression.

Predispositions for Addiction and Psychological Illness

Both substance use disorders and psychological illnesses, such as depression, may have genetic factors contributing to development. Because of this, some people are more vulnerable to developing one or the other. Frequently, it is discovered that a person can be predisposed to having both. 

Unfortunately, a person will have no control over inheriting this likelihood. However, addiction therapy programs at rehab centers for alcohol and depression have helped others with this dual diagnosis before. Long-term drug rehab programs can be very valuable when discussing treatment options. Utilizing the time and resources available during inhouse treatment can cover all areas of need for successfully achieving sobriety. 

Alcohol Abuse Leads to the Development of Depression

Rehab centers for alcohol and depression are also prepared to assist individuals who suffer from one illness as a result of another. During and after detox, performing this assessment may alter the course of necessary treatment. In order to be able to work toward successful recovery, potential illnesses caused by substance abuse must be screened for. 

During alcohol detox, the body is allowed time and provided with essential care to eliminate toxins from its system. Both during and after this delicate process, observation for mental illness will be ongoing. As mentioned above, depression can lead to the development of an alcohol use disorder. However, the opposite is even more likely to occur. 

Rehab centers for alcohol and depression are specially trained in the early detection of psychological impairment as a result of addiction. Persons undergoing detox for alcohol, as well as for other severe addictions like opioids, will require around-the-clock care. It will be essential to detect early warning signs of depression to continue the process through treatment adequately. 

Treating Alcohol and Depression Issues Simultaneously

People suffering from an alcohol use disorder and depression are going to require rehab treatment care for both autonomous illnesses. In earlier periods, therapists used to treat the symptoms of depression and alcohol addiction separately. However, doing this left patients struggling with the continuing effects of their depression after receiving treatment for their AUD. 

Phoenix Rising offers a contemporary dual diagnosis program for those who will benefit from rehab for alcohol and depression. Our team of specialists understands the synergy that exists between these two devastating illnesses. To be most effective, modern rehab centers have come to understand that addressing one means taking care of the other. Doing so at the same time extensively leads to a higher chance of breaking the cycle and maintaining long-term recovery. 

Residential Rehab Programs for Alcohol and Depression

Remote options are available for those who suffer from crippling depression and are exposed continuously to addiction or unsafe conditions. Each participant has the opportunity to receive treatment while residing with us at our Palm Springs ranch location. Our private and comfortable facility allows you to tune with nature while removing toxic influences experienced in your old environment. 

Phoenix Rising recommends a stay of 90 days or longer during our inpatient treatment program. You are able to heal at your own pace without temptation and triggers lurking around every corner. Rehab centers for alcohol and depression greatly increase the chances of a successful transition to sober living outside the program.

Alcohol and Depression Treatment Options at Rehab

Phoenix Rising rehab treatment centers for alcohol and depression offer programs and treatments for other addictions and psychological illnesses.

Some of our most extensive and recovery-targeted services offered include:

After being evaluated by our kind and understanding admissions team, recommendations will be made regarding the best course of action. Each course is personalized on an individual basis, and additional therapy may be required regarding rehab for alcohol and depression. 

The Ancient Stigma: Addiction and Mental Illness

More people have opened up about their struggle to get help from rehab for alcohol and depression in recent years. Not only has attending therapy within drug and alcohol rehab treatment become widely accepted by society, but it is also overwhelmingly encouraged. In fact, achieving, working toward, and maintaining sobriety in recovery is finally being celebrated for its accomplishment. 

However, it was not always like this. The stigma associated with these treatable illnesses has deterred many from getting the care that could save their lives. Many alcoholics and addicts in the past were faced with the decision between the lesser of two evils. Realistically, there used to be only two options, and neither was ideal.

1. They could continue feeding addiction while battling the debilitation of depression.

That is until there was nothing left to fight for. Eventually, deciding not to make an effort toward sobriety and wellness would take everything away from them anyway. Rehab for alcohol and depression was also not as conveniently available as it is today. Finding a reputable rehab center was few and far between, requiring much more effort.

2. The other option was to be open and honest about their struggles during the illness of addiction to depression. 

This would lead to potentially being able to seek out life-saving treatment. While this is always the bravest decision, it did not come without consequences during that time. Doing so might mean facing criticism and judgment from those who could beneficially support and care for them, which means having to face alcoholism and depression head-on and work toward picking up the left pieces. A humbling sacrifice for any person to make. Yet, the important part is that there will always be pieces left behind to be able to pick up. 

Developing a Recovery and Aftercare Plan

Luckily, since then, the world has begun to appreciate the hard work and courage it takes to be accountable. Finally, the dedication required to rebuild, improve, and succeed after rehab for alcohol and depression is commended and supported. The stigmas that used to exist have been exposed. When depression and addiction are holding you back from living the life you deserve, the time to get help is now. 

Taking the opportunity to develop life-changing coping skills to contradict triggers and working through therapy for depression changes everything. Before completing rehab for alcohol and depression, you’ll have the ability to work with professionals to develop an aftercare plan. 

An aftercare plan is designed to help you navigate life through the hard times or when encountering triggers. Therapy and relapse prevention care should be taken seriously, and rehab centers for addiction and depression have these resources available. Though this will require awareness and commitment, you will be given all of the tools needed to succeed after rehab has commenced. 

Get Help to Manage Dual Diagnosis of Depression and Addiction

Though it may sound intimidating, rehab for alcohol and depression can help you make positive changes. Suffering from dual diagnosis can make you feel like there is no way out, but be assured that treatment works. 

The longer you let addiction and mental illness feed each other, the bigger they will grow. Connect with us today to get started on learning new ways to deal with depression and alcohol addiction. Taking action toward healing and sobriety should never have to wait because your wellness is worth it.