The symptoms people experience when they are depressed can lead to various other complications, including poor coping mechanisms. Often, people turn to drugs or alcohol to help reduce the intensity of their emotions or to “drown out” the feelings they have. Unfortunately, using alcohol to self-medicate depression often leads to worsening symptoms and potentially new or worsening physical and mental health symptoms in addition to depression. It can also lead to alcohol dependence and addiction.
What Is Depression?
Feeling “blue” or “down in the dumps” is normal for everyone from time to time. We all have moments, or even days, when we feel depressed and sad. Most of the time, these emotions are temporary and resolve soon after they begin. Clinical depression is more than a fleeting feeling of sadness related to day-to-day issues, stressors, or a significant life event.
Depression, also referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder. It leads to significant alterations in mood that are more severe than feeling down or upset. The severity of depressive episodes and their associated symptoms will vary throughout a person’s life and, left untreated, can lead to significant physical and emotional complications.
Depression will not go away on its own. At least half of those who experience one depressive episode will have one or more additional episodes in their lifetime. Also, research around depression indicates each additional episode further increases the risk of additional episodes. Data suggests an individual who has had two episodes is eighty percent more likely to experience further episodes.
Can Alcohol Make Depression Worse?
Studies indicate there may be a direct link between alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse and major depressive disorder2. One common side effect of drinking alcohol is depression. Also, alcohol can worsen existing symptoms in those who already experience depressive symptoms, are vulnerable to depressive disorders or have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder.
Yes, drinking and alcohol addiction can make depression worse. Often, this is due to using alcohol to self-medicate. The effects of alcohol can temporarily reduce anxiety, promote happiness, and calm and lower inhibitions. All of these are challenges someone with depression often struggles to overcome. Unfortunately, this often leads to worsening substance use. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates as many as eight million3 adults in the United States have a dual diagnosis (a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder). Also, a recent New York Times articles4 states about one-third of depressed people struggle with alcohol abuse.
What to Do If You Think You Have a Problem With Alcohol and Depression
If you have a problem with alcohol and depression, the best option is to seek help from a treatment facility where treatment professionals are trained to address dual diagnosis conditions. Dual diagnosis treatment allows the individual and the treatment team to focus on all areas of the problem providing the most comprehensive opportunity for recovery. Specialized dual diagnosis therapy models can help you learn more about why you may be using alcohol to self-medicate while helping you learn and practice healthier, safer coping strategies to use throughout treatment and recovery.
Dual diagnosis treatment will also provide the opportunity to learn more about your symptom triggers, including people, places, and events that may lead you to drink or may worsen your depression symptoms. During treatment at Rise in Malibu, your treatment team will help you create a plan to address inevitable future triggers, reducing the potential for relapse after treatment.
Dual diagnosis treatment programs use evidence-based, alternative treatment models such as yoga, massage therapy, meditation, and nutritional counseling in conjunction with traditional therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, to ensure the most comprehensive treatment program possible. During therapy, you will participate in individual, group, and family support sessions focused on helping you meet your treatment needs and goals.
Reach Out to the Team at Rise in Malibu Today
If you struggle with alcohol and depression, a dual diagnosis treatment program will provide the best, most comprehensive opportunity for recovery. If you are ready to begin your journey to recovery, contact us at our luxury Malibu, California treatment center today to learn more about how Rise can help you.