Are Alcoholism, Depression, and Anxiety Related?

The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates more than 14 million American’s over the age of 12 had an alcohol use disorder in 2018. Of those, up to 40% struggle with a co-occurring mental health condition such as anxiety or depression.


What Causes Alcoholism?


Pointing to a specific root cause of alcoholism is difficult and potentially impossible. Like other addictions and mental health challenges, alcoholism may develop from several causes. Alcohol use triggers the reward or pleasure sensors in the brain. When you drink, it encourages positive feelings that may be challenging to experience otherwise. The lack of pleasure or joy when not drinking leads someone prone to addiction to drink more. Unfortunately, the more you drink, the more addiction takes hold.


Several factors may increase your vulnerability to developing alcoholism. These include genetics, biological gender (gender at birth), family history, frequent heavy drinking, and experimenting with alcohol at a young age. Underlying mental health conditions, a history of trauma, environmental and social factors may also play a role.


What causes Depression and Anxiety?


Research has not found a specific cause for developing anxiety. Studies suggest it likely develops from a combination of factors, including environmental and genetic factors. Some studies show anxiety may have a genetic link as well. These studies show that you are at an increased risk of developing anxiety if you have a first-degree relative with an anxiety disorder.


Like anxiety, a specific cause for depression remains unknown. However, depression develops from similar roots as anxiety and other mental health conditions. Characteristics unique to the individual, including genetics, early childhood trauma, and environmental factors, lie at the core of many mental health conditions. Some types of depression, such as postpartum depression, may arise out of hormonal changes in the body.  


It is important to remember that anxiety and depression are sometimes connected. It is not uncommon for someone struggling with persistent anxiety to experience depression. Conversely, anxiety can develop out of ongoing depression. The struggle to manage the powerful symptoms of this condition often leads people to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.


Are Alcoholism, Depression, and Anxiety Related?


According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2018, approximately 8.5 million Americans had a dual diagnosis in 2017. The term dual diagnosis means someone has a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, and a substance use disorder at the same time. Research shows almost one-third of people with depression also meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. This co-morbidity (both diagnoses simultaneously) is associated with an increased risk of suicide, social and personal impairments, and other mental health conditions.


Substance use is widespread among people who are also struggling with triggering circumstances. Alcohol operates as a depressant to the central nervous system, and therefore the use of alcohol while depressed tends to trigger depressive symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness, and lethargy. Also, people experiencing depression often reach for substances such as alcohol or drugs to elevate their spirits or numb themselves to painful triggering emotions. As a result, depression and substance abuse tend to feed on one another at one condition will often make the other worse. According to some research, approximately one out of every four adults with a mental illness such as depression will also have a substance abuse disorder.


How to Find Treatment for Alcoholism, Depression, and Anxiety


When you struggle with alcoholism, depression, and anxiety, the best opportunity for recovery is to seek dual diagnosis treatment. In a dual diagnosis treatment program, your treatment team will work with you to design a plan that addresses your holistic needs, including your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.


Another significant benefit of choosing a dual-diagnosis treatment program is learning how to identify triggers. When you struggle with mental health symptoms, elements of your day-to-day obligations can be triggering. Learning about and practicing healthy coping strategies you can use to manage relapse triggers is essential to ongoing recovery.


If you or a loved one has a dual diagnosis condition, then seeking help at a rehab in Malibu may be the safest and most effective way to overcome your symptoms and find freedom from the challenges of alcohol addiction. Contact us today to learn more about how our Rise in Malibu drug and alcohol treatment program can help you with your journey.

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