Alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol that, for some people, develops as a way to cope with depression. Studies show that between 30 and 50 percent of people with alcoholism also suffer from major depression at any given time. Alcohol may temporarily relieve the painful symptoms of depression, but in the long run it is a deadly mix that can lead to severe alcoholism and even suicide.
Symptoms of Alcoholism and Depression
Many times, a person will use alcohol to numb the painful and difficult symptoms of an already existing mental health issue. Other times, mental health issues will arise as a result of excessive drinking. Whatever the case may be, alcoholism increases the severity of mental health issues, and mental health issues increase the severity of alcoholism.
Identifying depression in a person who is addicted to alcohol can be very difficult because many of the symptoms of alcoholism mimic the symptoms of depression. These symptoms include:
* Lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
* Irritability, anger or hostility
* Feelings of emptiness, helplessness or hopelessness
* Changes in eating and sleeping habits
* Sloppy appearance
* Restlessness and agitation
* Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
* Spending a lot of time alone
* Dramatic weight loss or weight gain
* Difficulty thinking, concentrating and remembering
* Chronic aches and pains
* Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death
The Link between Alcoholism and Depression
When a person first starts drinking, they will experience euphoric feelings that put them in a good mood. The problem with this is that alcohol is a depressant, and these happy feelings will eventually be replaced. When the alcohol wears off, some people will feel more depressed than ever. A person who is already battling depression may feel overwhelmed during alcohol withdrawal, which is why recovering at an alcohol rehab is so imperative.
Alcohol depresses the brain and nervous system and has been found to lower serotonin and norepinephrine levels, which control a person’s mood. When a person with major depression abuses alcohol, he or she has a much higher risk of attempting and succeeding at suicide. In fact, major depression and alcohol abuse are the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders in people who attempt suicide. If you or someone you love is suffering from major depression and alcohol abuse, it’s critical that you seek help right away before suicidal thoughts are acted upon.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Alcoholism and Depression
People who are recovering from alcoholism and have a history of depression should be carefully monitored during the early stages of withdrawal because the depressive symptoms from alcohol will be the greatest when a person first stops drinking. A good dual diagnosis treatment facility will address all issues relating to the mental illness and the substance abuse problem. It will provide treatment for drug and alcohol use, behavioral addictions, codependency patterns, mental health, trauma issues, eating disorders, sexual addiction, family functioning, social relationships, physical health and fitness, diet and nutrition, vocational and education needs, and legal problems.
Alcohol addiction is often a symptom of underlying issues. These issues can include childhood or adult abuse or trauma, repressed memories, family patterns or a combination of many things. Clinical therapy combined with drug counseling can uncover these underlying issues and help a patient heal without turning to drugs or alcohol. Without comprehensive treatment, a person suffering from depression and alcohol abuse will inevitably continue the unending cycle of self-medicating their mental illness symptoms through substance abuse. If you know someone who has dual diagnose symptoms, encourage them to seek treatment at a dual diagnosis drug rehab where they can be properly diagnosed and effectively treated.