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Is There a Link Between Alcoholism and Depression?

The link between alcoholism and depression is clearly defined. The only question remaining is the individual factor of what illness came first. Did depression present such severe symptoms that the individual used alcohol as a coping mechanism? On the other hand, was the individual with an alcohol use disorder engulfed in depression following physical and psychological from the addiction? Dual diagnosis is a common dilemma; both entities’ treatment must be addressed and implemented simultaneously.

Are you experiencing severe depression and feeling lost in sadness and hopelessness? Some people are overwhelmed with their life situations and feel unable to cope. Alcoholism and depression often go hand in hand, with symptoms escalating and no relief, affecting every aspect of a person’s life.

Alcoholism: What if it Comes First?

The relationship with alcohol can go from abuse to addiction quickly. Specific thinking patterns, behaviors, and psychological factors are involved with an alcohol use disorder. Those with a healthy relationship with alcohol do not experience any of these signs or symptoms. Therefore, in understanding the connection between alcoholism and depression, it’s essential to understand alcoholism and alcohol-specific treatment.

Severe alcohol use affects brain chemistry. For example, serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters regulate mood, happiness, and well-being. Those using excessive amounts of alcohol cause the brain’s vital balance to fluctuate, triggering symptoms of depression and health issues. These kinds of effects on the brain can trigger mental illness, demonstrating the link between alcoholism and depression.

The following thinking patterns and behaviors are a direct indication of alcohol use disorder:

  • Lifestyle, occupational, and relationship difficulties because of drinking
  • Irrational thinking allows for consuming alcohol in unsafe situations
  • Building a high tolerance to alcohol
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when drinking subsides or stops
  • An inability to go through the day without drinking

In the case of an individual with an alcohol abuse disorder, first, drinking can initiate changes in the brain to cause depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Dual diagnosis is more complex to treat than addiction alone or depression alone. Alcoholism and depression can escalate to dangerous levels that are physically disabling and lead to suicidal thoughts and self-harm behaviors.  Finding a treatment center that can treat both illnesses with rehabilitation is crucial for success in recovery.

Depression: What if Mental Illness Occurs before Alcoholism?

Depression comes in different forms. Unfortunately, each type of depression is equally disabling. In addition, an inability to incorporate healthy and positive coping mechanisms often results in drinking alcohol or drug use to relieve symptoms. Therefore, understanding the types of depression and the symptoms and causes is an essential educational journey. In grasping the connection between alcoholism and depression, education creates a foundation for possible treatment.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Changes in light or daytime hours are the initial cause of this type of depression. However, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short, is so much more than the winter blues; it is often referred to. Throughout the winter months, individuals with SAD experience debilitating depression. This depression must be experienced for at least two consecutive years for a diagnosis to be determined. Typical symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder can include:

  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness
  • Irritability
  • Long hours of oversleeping
  • Gaining weight from changes in appetite

The link between alcoholism and depression with SAD occurs when the user drinks alcohol to relieve sadness and instill happiness. Catch twenty-two occurs when the individual with SAD craves alcohol to be satisfied. The body becomes dependent, and the brain chemistry is once again affected. Stopping the cycle becomes impossible to achieve alone.

Major Depression

Of all the types of depression, major depression is the most severe. Researchers have proven that twenty to twenty-five percent of adults living in the United States experience at least one major depressive episode. Intense sadness and worthlessness overwhelm individuals and interfere with every aspect of their lives. When alcoholism and depression connect, it’s catastrophic. It is essential to evaluate the following symptoms to conclude you may be experiencing major depression and need to move towards sobriety.

  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Excessive crying
  • No or little energy and no motivation for anything
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Recurring thoughts of how to commit suicide

Other Types of Depression

There are many types of depression not mentioned here. Individuals experiencing any form of depression can seldom recover without professional help. In each case, the link between alcoholism and depression is clear. Alcoholism aggravates depression, and the symptoms of depression are aggravated by alcohol use. The problem is more prevalent than most realize especially in long term addiction. Other forms of depression can include:

  • Psychotic Depression includes symptoms of hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder or dysthymia has symptoms for at least two years
  • Bipolar Depression includes complex and challenging management of severe highs and lows

How Are Alcoholism and Depression Diagnosed?

There is no diagnosis until the individual feels compelled to get help. Both mental illness and substance use disorders are crippling and damage the ability to think clearly. Alcoholism and depression are treated by many treatment centers and can be determined through an assessment, medical examination, and lab testing. Medical and mental health professionals have protocols to make a precise diagnosis before treatment can begin.

The medical professional will eliminate all possible health issues that could be causing the depression from a physical standpoint. Both professions use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to reach a diagnosis for depression. Substance abuse disorders have their criteria to be determined in assessments. Alcoholism and depression present at the same time are described as dual diagnoses.

Find Help in Treating Alcoholism and Depression in Tennessee

If you are searching for a qualified treatment center for alcohol use disorder and depression, Freeman Recovery Center in Tennessee has programs to assist you. Dual diagnosis treatment is available, and we can begin an assessment to determine the facts of what you are facing to bring you closer to sobriety.

We specialize in treating alcohol use disorder with a comprehensive and compassionate approach. Our alcohol rehab program is designed to address the complexities of alcoholism through a combination of evidence-based therapies and personalized care plans. By integrating expert testimonials, we showcase our proven track record in helping individuals achieve lasting sobriety. Our dedicated team of professionals employs a variety of treatment modalities, including individual therapy, group therapy, and medical detoxification, to ensure each patient receives holistic care tailored to their unique needs. At Freeman Recovery Center, we’re committed to guiding you on your journey to recovery, restoring hope, and empowering you to reclaim your life.

Our staff is encouraging and compassionate, understanding the power of mental illness and addiction. We welcome any type of inquiry for more information. Contact us today.

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