Depression is common among addicts. Compared with the general population, people addicted to drugs are roughly twice as likely to have mood and anxiety disorders, and vice versa, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). As a result, addiction specialists are treating both depression and addiction together with what is known as a “dual diagnosis.” When addicts with depression leave treatment, they have likely addressed both disorders and are armed with tools for dealing with both. If the depression pops up after rehab, it’s important to deal with it in order to avoid relapse and maintain the benefits of recovery.
When a Mood Disorder Returns
After leaving treatment for the dual diagnosis of depression and addiction (also known as a “co-occurring disorder”), the mood disorder could come back, and it’s important to deal with it in order to stay well. If it’s situational depression, which may come with facing normal life challenges and usually follows a single incident like the loss of a loved one or a major life transition, there are a number of ways to deal with it. First, sharing about the incident and the feelings about it will help release stress and emotional charge. A great deal of self-care also helps alleviate situational depression – exercise, eating well, being in nature, taking part in social situations, even when the motivation is low.
If clinical depression has been part of the diagnosis, medication may be the best solution. Clinical depression is more than just feeling a bit down. It is a medical illness that involves brain chemistry and can make normal functioning very difficult. Negative feelings and thinking accompany clinical depression, and there is typically a lack of energy and motivation to keep going. Physical symptoms can be severe, including headaches, nausea, and dizziness. If prescribed medications aren’t helping the situation, it’s critical to get to a medical doctor for advice on how to change dosages or switch to a different medication.