29 Jan 2015
Healing From Depression In Recovery
Depression and addiction as co-existing disorders isn’t uncommon. If you’ve gone through rehab and addiction treatment and are now successfully in recovery, you’ve done some very difficult work to get better.
What if you now feel depressed? If you do, you’re far from alone. Nearly 9 million people struggle with both addiction and a mental illness. Any mental illness can co-occur with addiction, but depression is common.
Learning To Heal From Depression In Recovery
If you did your hard work in rehab and are now struggling with depression, you’re at greater risk of relapsing. Learn to heal from your depression so you don’t return to substance abuse and so you can live an enjoyable life.
Getting Diagnosis And Treatment
The most important thing you can do now is to see a professional for a diagnosis. A mental health professional can tell you if you have clinical depression or if you are battling a normal and expected bout of depression after drug or alcohol addiction. Either way, getting treatment will help. Treatment for depression usually involves psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, medication or some combination of these methods.
Therapy can help you learn to recognize signs of depression and negative thoughts while also learning how to change them. Medication is a type of treatment that works for many people struggling with depression. However, as an addict in recovery you may not be comfortable taking a medication. That is a personal choice and one you should make with the advice of your doctor and therapist.
Positive Lifestyle Changes
While professional help is important in guiding you through post-rehab depression, you can also make positive changes that will improve your mood. None of these should be considered a substitution for professional care, but they can be used to supplement your treatment:
- Exercise – One important thing to do is to start exercising and eating well. Being in good physical condition will go a long way toward improving your mood. Furthermore, exercise is known to lift the mood immediately. If you feel like you can barely get out of bed in the mornings, the idea of exercise may be daunting. Start small with a short walk each day and see how it makes you feel.
- Be social – Another important way to battle depression is to be social. Spend quality time with people you enjoy. You don’t have to have a lot of friends or go to parties to be social and to benefit from socializing. Having a cup of coffee with a good friend or dinner with your family are great ways to feel better about your life. Social support is crucial to both sobriety and mood.
- Make life meaningful – Develop meaningful activities in your life. For people in recovery, sobriety often feels like a big gaping hole. You spent so much time and energy using, you may now feel lost. Fill up that hole with activities that are healthful and meaningful. Work at a job you enjoy. Do volunteer work. Take up a creative hobby like painting or writing. Adopt a dog or cat from a shelter and learn to take care of it. All of these things are meaningful and special and will make your life feel worthwhile.
Caring And Effective Depression Treatment Is Available
Depression is a serious mental illness, and it can take over your life if you do not challenge it. As an addict in recovery, you face additional challenges. If you just can’t shake your feelings of depression no matter what lifestyle changes you make, be sure to seek professional help. Depression is treatable and you don’t have to suffer.
Call Us Now For Mental Health Or Addiction Help – We Are Here For You Because You’re Worth It!…Always!
04 Aug 2014
How To Cope With A Dual Diagnosis
Addiction and mental illness often go together. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the effects of those substances in your brain can bring on symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health disorders. Conversely, if you have a mental illness you may medicate yourself using drugs or alcohol. If you have received a dual diagnosis and are struggling with both mental illness and addiction, there is hope and there is help.
You Are Not Alone
It may come as a surprise to you when you find out you have been struggling with a mental illness. Getting that diagnosis is never easy to face, but know that you are far from alone. Nearly half of all people with a severe mental illness also have substance abuse issues. Furthermore, half of people who abuse drugs and a third of people who abuse alcohol also struggle with mental illness. Anxiety disorders and depression are the most common mental illnesses that co-occur with addiction. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are also seen together with addiction.
Learn About Your Illnesses
When you get that diagnosis for depression, anxiety disorder or any other mental health issue and you also realize you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, it may feel like a light bulb went off in your head. Certain behaviors and feelings may begin to make more sense. To truly understand what is going on in your brain and to empower yourself to act, learn more about both mental health and addiction. The more you know the less mysterious and sinister it will seem. In educating yourself you will also begin to learn about treatment options.
Get Treatment For Addiction And Mental Illness
Getting treatment is important when you have a dual diagnosis. Either you have been self-medicating to treat your mental health symptoms or your symptoms have worsened because of your substance abuse. In either case, you are stuck in a harmful pattern of behaviors. Experts agree that you should treat both issues to get well. One may take precedence over the other, though. For instance, if your substance abuse is wreaking havoc on your physical health and running your life you may need to address your addiction first.
Start with your primary care doctor if you aren’t sure where to go to get help. Your doctor can recommend psychologists or therapists who can get you on the right treatment path for you. You may need to spend some time in a rehab facility. If you do, make sure you look for a program that is experienced in treating people with a dual diagnosis. You don’t want to ignore either one of your issues while treating the other.
Look For Support
Above all, when you find out that you have both an addictive disorder and a mental health disorder it is important to rely on friends and family. A strong support network is one of the most important ways that you can cope with your recovery and treatment. Getting professional help is necessary, but without the support of loved ones, you are at serious risk of relapsing after completing a treatment program.
Support groups can help too. Look for group meetings for alcohol or drug addiction, but also for meetings for people with mental health issues. If you need to join two different groups to meet your needs, that’s fine; just make sure that you have a group of people with whom you can share your feelings and experiences. It will make a big difference to your recovery. Getting a dual diagnosis is not easy to hear, but remember that you are not alone and that there are caring professionals ready to help you.
People diagnosed with some form of mental illness have steeply increased odds of smoking cigarettes. Doctors and researchers have proposed a range of underlying mechanisms to explain this connection between cigarette use and mental health issues. In a study published in April 2014 in the journal European Addiction Research, a team of Dutch researchers investigated how blood levels of a nicotine byproduct called cotinine affect any given person’s risks for having diagnosable problems with depression or an anxiety disorder.
Almost 20 percent of American adults have some form of diagnosable mental health problem. A similar percentage of the total adult population smokes cigarettes. However, current figures indicate that more than a third of U.S. adults with a mental illness diagnosis are smokers.
Additional Groups That Have A Greater Chance Of Smoking
In addition, researchers know that certain segments of the larger population of mentally ill adults have unusually heightened odds of being smokers, including younger individuals, those with relatively little educational achievement, people living in poverty and people with an Alaska Native or American Indian racial/ethnic background.
Explanations for the link between mental illness and smoking that have at least some scientific support include a tendency among people diagnosed with mental health problems to use cigarettes as a form of self-medication, an increased tendency toward mental illness among people who smoke and an increased tendency for smokers to use alcohol or other substances that carry their own separate mental health risks.
Nicotine And Cotinine
Nicotine is the addictive substance responsible for fostering the patterns of repeated cigarette use common among smokers. Any given cigarette contains roughly 1 to 2 mg of nicotine, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. This nicotine travels through the bloodstream to the brain, where it produces its mind-altering and addiction-promoting effects. After producing these effects, the drug does not immediately leave the body.
Instead, it lingers in the bloodstream for a number of hours before breaking down into its main byproduct, cotinine. Cotinine stays in the body much longer than nicotine, and is therefore easier to trace. For this reason, in laboratory experiments, researchers commonly use the level of cotinine in a person’s bloodstream to track his or her involvement in cigarette use. While this byproduct always stays in the body longer than nicotine, the rate of cotinine processing varies from person to person.
How Smokers’ Cotinine Levels Affect Mental Illness
In the study published in European Addiction Research, researchers from three Dutch institutions explored the role of cotinine levels in determining which cigarette users have increased chances of developing diagnosable symptoms of major depression or another depressive disorder, or symptoms of any one of the conditions known collectively as anxiety disorders (panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, social phobia, etc.).
The data for this exploration came from 1,026 cigarette-using adults enrolled in a project called the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. All told, 692 of these cigarette users had active symptoms of a depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder. Another 190 study participants had a previously diagnosed case of depression or anxiety currently in remission, while the remaining 144 participants had no history of diagnosable depression or anxiety.
The researchers calculated the number of cigarettes smoked on a daily basis by each study participant, as well as the amount of cotinine found in the bloodstream after cigarette use occurred. After completing these calculations, they concluded that, for any given amount of cigarettes smoked, those individuals with relatively low levels of cotinine in their bloodstreams have the highest chances of experiencing diagnosable symptoms of anxiety or depression. The difference in cotinine levels is especially stark between those individuals currently affected by depression or anxiety and those individuals who have never had symptoms of these mental health problems.
The authors of the study published in European Addiction Research believe that smokers affected by a depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder may process the cotinine left over in their bloodstreams at a substantially faster pace than smokers not affected by depression or anxiety.
In turn, they believe that this faster cotinine processing may help provide an underlying reason for the relatively high daily cigarette intake among anxious and/or depressed smokers, as well as an underlying reason for the relatively poor smoking cessation outcomes for anxious and/or depressed cigarette users who try to quit.
See How The Odds For Quitting Smoking Triple With Counseling And Medication
Adolescence – that interesting, exciting, and challenging period of life that ever one of us has to go through. Of course, some seem to stay perpetually stuck there emotionally, long after they’ve left their teen years behind. But for most, it’s a several-years-long transition from childhood to adulthood. The journey is often bumpy, even for the teens that seem to have things reasonably together.
Unfortunately, though, some teens really struggle during this phase of life – beyond what would (or should) be considered normal adolescent ups and downs. It can be hard, as a parent, to know when to take the attitude of “this, too, shall pass” versus “it’s time to seek professional help for our son / daughter”. Sometimes there’s a significant gray area, and multiple factors need to be considered. But more often than not, the signs are pretty clear – if you’re paying attention; that can be a challenge for parents with harried schedules and plates overflowing with obligations and responsibilities.
Since this phase of your child’s life will have a significant impact on his or her future, the sooner mental health issues are addressed, the better. Following is a list of indicators that your teen likely needs mental health treatment – or at the very least needs an evaluation by a psychologist or other mental health professional. If after reading through them, you’re still hesitant or unsure, at least take your teen in for an evaluation to determine whether or not treatment is necessary.
Remember, many parents tend to view their teens through at least somewhat rose-colored glasses, minimizing or turning a blind eye to serious issues. Sadly, doing so can have very serious repercussions down the road. Better to err on the side of caution than to ignore problems or assume things will work themselves out. If treatment is warranted, it’s absolutely in your teen’s best interest to take that step now rather than later (or even worse, never).
9 Warning Signs Your Teen Needs A Mental Health Evaluation
1 – Your teen is having problems functioning on a day to day basis. One of the primary criterion for practically every disorder listed in the DSM (the diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals) is that the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with day to day functioning or significantly impact at least one or more major area of life (e.g. relationships, school, or work). For example, it’s normal to occasionally feel sad or blue, but it’s not normal to self-mutilate when sad or angry, or become completely withdrawn for weeks at a time.
Signs that your teen isn’t functioning normally may include:
- A notable drop in grades
- Frequent absences or tardiness at school or work
- Decrease in personal hygiene
- Difficulties concentrating
- Bizarre behavior
- Low energy
- Difficulties making decisions
- Inability to cope with minor frustrations
Some psychiatric problems develop quickly, while others develop slowly over time. It’s always important to note any negative changes from your teen’s prior behavior. While it may be temporary, it can also be a sign of something serious.
2 – Your teen appears depressed, sad, withdrawn, or “blue” much of the time, or is often tearful or irritable. Each of these is a potential indicator of depression. As mentioned above, feeling sad or blue from time to time is perfectly normal – it’s part of being human. But it’s important to realize that, even with teens, an often depressed mood is not normal and needs to be addressed.
Many children and teens struggle with undiagnosed depression, suffering in silence for months or even years. Parents and other adults may mistakenly attribute an introverted, quiet demeanor to their personality rather than realizing depression is the real culprit. With proper treatment, a formerly depressed, withdrawn teen can become surprisingly outgoing.
It’s important to note that a significant loss (e.g. the death or loss of a friend, close relative, or beloved pet, or even a major move) can trigger profound feelings of sadness in your teen. However, while grieving is normal, healthy, and necessary, some teens don’t cope well with loss and get stuck in their grief. A major loss can trigger depression as well as exacerbate an existing depression.
While an episode of depression can be short-lived (e.g. a few weeks), it can also last for years – especially if left untreated. It can also lead to other serious problems for teens, increasing their risk for suicide, substance abuse and addiction, and serious academic problems. A drop in grades can make it difficult for them to get into college, and an ongoing or recurring battle with depression can negatively impact their performance if they do get in.
3 – Your teen has intense or rapid mood swings. Adolescent angst – it’s normal, right? Well, yes – to some degree. After all, teens are notorious for being moody, which is often attributed to hormonal changes and fluctuations. However, while occasional or mild moodiness may be normal, frequent intense or rapid shifts in moods shouldn’t be ignored.
Even in teens, a generally upbeat (or at least neutral) mood is a good indicator of healthy psychological functioning and emotional stability. Significant deviations from that may be a sign of psychiatric problems, including depression, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder.
Keep in mind, if your teen is using alcohol or drugs, those substances can also cause erratic or intense mood fluctuations. Significant stress (e.g. parental separation or divorce, or a recent breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend) can also make your teen moodier than usual. If the mood swings are persistent, an evaluation is warranted. Even if stress is the primary cause (as opposed to a diagnosable disorder), a skilled therapist can help your teen learn healthy coping skills that will be beneficial for years to come. If substance abuse is the cause, early intervention is essential.
4 – Your teen is frequently using alcohol or drugs (which can include prescription drugs, OTC medications, and inhalants) to cope with stress or negative emotions, or fix a problem. It goes without saying that substance use in teens should never be taken lightly. Teens may think it’s expected and acceptable to drink with their friends and experiment with drugs, but the consequences can be devastating. Not only are many substances potentially addictive (leading to more serious long-term problems), they will also impair your teen’s judgment.
With regards to the need for mental health treatment, many teens start drinking or using regularly as a way to “self-medicate” psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. They may also turn to illicit substances to enhance athletic performance, quickly drop unwanted pounds, or stay alert while studying for exams. A few beers can quiet racing thoughts, while a friend’s ADHD medication can temporarily boost a negative mood. Your teen may think they’re harmless enough (especially if they are “acceptable” substances, like alcohol or prescription drugs), but it’s an especially serious matter when they’re used to escape, cope, or fix a problem. This is because every time they provide even a little relief or benefit, the desire to use them again is significantly reinforced.
If your teen has a substance abuse problem and a mental health condition, he or she would be a good candidate for what’s known as “dual diagnosis” treatment. Treating only the substance abuse issue or only the mental health disorder will set your teen up for failure. Treating both disorders simultaneously is the best way to ensure a positive outcome and prevent a relapse down the road.
5 – Your teen is preoccupied with his or her weight or physical appearance, and / or has notable issues with eating and food in general. Body image issues and eating disorders often emerge during adolescence. Teens experience significant growth spurts and hormonal changes – both of which can cause problems such as acne and unwanted weight gain (as well as being too thin). They’re also becoming keenly aware of their sexuality. This can be particularly scary for teens with a history of sexual abuse (who may try to thwart the development of curves by starving themselves or binge eat in order to gain enough weight to be undesirable). Other teens feel a desperate need to make themselves more attractive typically involves being thin.
Combine society’s pressure to be thin and beautiful (or muscular and athletic), poor coping skills, and a fragile self-esteem, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an eating disorder (such as anorexia or bulimia) or another, lesser-known disorder known as “body dysmorphic disorder” (BDD). Eating disorders and BDD not only often go hand in hand; they can also trigger or worsen other disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.
Eating disorders can be especially serious because they often cause significant medical health issues and, for some, permanent physical damage. Anorexia, which is one of the most well-known eating disorders, is also one of the most deadly mental health conditions.
It’s important to note that serious body image issues and a severely dysfunctional relationship with food don’t just affect females. Adolescent males are also vulnerable to developing eating disorders as well as BDD.
6 – Your teen is often anxious or fearful, struggles with obsessions or compulsions, or worries excessively. Anxiety disorders are quite common in children and adolescents. Problems with anxiety can develop gradually or appear suddenly. An abrupt onset is often triggered by a traumatic incident, such as a natural disaster, a school shooting, or being the victim of a violent or sexual assault.
Problems with anxiety often include irrational fears, such as obsessing about having a serious illness or being contaminated by germs, or being terrified by something like spiders or dogs (even if it’s only a photo of a dog or the spider is securely encased in a glass terrarium). Nightmares, nervous habits (e.g. fidgeting, nail biting) and difficulties sleeping are not uncommon in anxious teens.
Occasional fear and worry are normal. However, when anxiety becomes constant, excessive, and / or irrational, it can be paralyzing and interfere with every aspect of your teen’s life.
7 – Your teen is hostile, violent, aggressive, and / or has difficulty managing anger. A teen who’s often angry, irritable, destructive (to self or others), violent, or hostile is a teen who needs help. When any of these behaviors or emotionsoccurs – especially frequently or regularly – it’s a red flag that needs to be taken very seriously.
Angry kids often become angry – and destructive – adults. They’re more vulnerable to accidents, substance disorders, suicide attempts, depression, and abuse or violence towards others. They’re also going to have serious problems at school, at work, and in their relationships.
These particular behaviors and emotions may be due to a variety of factors, including substance use (e.g. steroids, alcohol, or stimulants), trauma, mood disorders, psychosis (e.g. grandiose or paranoid delusions), and personality disorders. Even if your teen doesn’t meet the criteria for a specific disorder, therapy can help him or her learn to manage intense emotions and aggressive impulses.
8 – Your teen has experienced a recent trauma. Although not every teen needs therapy after being subjected to a traumatic event, it’s always wise to have him or her evaluated. Traumatic events are difficult enough for adults with good coping skills and a strong support system. Teens, however, often have yet to fully, or at least sufficiently, develop the skills required to sustain them when their world is turned completely upside down by trauma.
If your teen is having flashbacks, frequent nightmares, experiencing depression or anxiety, having trouble sleeping, or avoiding people, situations, or places that remind him or her of the trauma, treatment is likely necessary.
9 – Your teen is preoccupied with, is threatening, or has attempted suicide. Adolescence is one of the highest risk age groups when it comes to suicide. One of the reasons for this is that teens tend to be very impulsive. They also have a difficult time seeing the bigger picture and realizing that they can and will get through something that – at least in the moment – feels absolutely unbearable, such as the devastating, unexpected end of a romantic relationship.
Suicidal talk, threats, and attempts should always be taken very seriously. Countless parents who have lost a son or daughter to suicide would be quick to say they’d give anything to go back in time and heed the signs – signs that, in retrospect (at least in their minds), should have been so obvious.
Any preoccupation with suicide and death can be a potential clue that your teen is toying with the idea of ending his or her life. Threats are an even stronger indicator. Although some threats are idle, don’t make the mistake of assuming that your teen is just being dramatic. An angry or upset impulsive teen may make a serious attempt, resulting in permanent physical damage or death – even though he or she had no real intention of dying and just wanted to get your attention.
A suicide attempt – even if non-life-threatening – should always be taken very seriously. A naïve teen may think 4 or 5 Tylenol pills or a superficial cut to the wrist are enough to cause death. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of their actions. Additionally, one of the greatest predictors of future suicide attempts is a history of prior attempts.
Keep in mind that suicide isn’t always due to depression. Even when it is, the signs of depression may be subtle. Some teens may get involved in a suicide pact with friends for various reasons. Others may have been depressed, but once they made the decision to end their life they started feeling better. Ironically, a decision to commit suicide can be empowering and actually boost one’s mood, leaving others more baffled than ever when the person – who no longer seemed depressed – ends his or her life.
Any and all suicidal talk, threats, and behaviors warrant an evaluation by a mental health professional as soon as possible.
As a parent, you have a huge responsibility. Teens often lack the insight and maturity to realize when they need help. They also may mistakenly believe that what they’re experiencing is normal or that no one could possibly understand or help them. And, of course, some teens don’t want anyone prying into their personal life. That’s why it’s important to pay attention, keep the doors of communication open, and be ready to take action when needed.
Yes, your child may be mad at you for a while if you make him or her “see some stupid shrink”. But wouldn’t it be far better to endure a brief period of adolescent petulance than watch your precious child suffer for months or years with an undiagnosed, untreated mental health issue – especially one that could have been overcome or significantly alleviated and managed with proper (and early) treatment?
If You Think Your Teen Is Suffering Emotionally Or With A Mental Health Issue, Call Us Now, We Are Here To Help!
Doctors and public health officials know that people who use marijuana or other forms of cannabis may be affected by symptoms of depression more often than people who don’t use cannabis. People affected by depression may get involved in cannabis use because they believe the drug will make them feel better. However, they may also get involved because they knowingly or unknowingly believe that cannabis use will reinforce their dysfunctional state of mind. In a study published in March/April 2014 in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, a team of American researchers investigated whether positive or negative cannabis-related expectations best explain use of the drug in people with depression symptoms.
Depression And Treatment
Current evidence indicates that depression is not directly related to increased chances of involvement in cannabis use. Instead, for a number of reasons—including genetic predisposition and exposure to certain environmental factors—people who receive a depression diagnosis are statistically more likely to use marijuana or some other form of cannabis than people who don’t receive such a diagnosis. In some cases, individuals already impacted by the effects of depression may turn to marijuana in an attempt to ease the strain of their mental health symptoms. In other cases, habitual cannabis users may undergo personality changes that feature depression-like effects or actual diagnosable depression symptoms. People who self-medicate their depression symptoms with marijuana or other forms of cannabis sometimes experience a temporary improvement of those symptoms; however, in the long run, this type of drug use can easily worsen existing cases of depression and leave affected individuals with a significant decline in their mental/emotional well-being.
Drug Use Expectations
All people who drink or take drugs have expectations about the effects likely to stem from their substance use. Some of these expectations are “positive,” meaning that users believe they will feel better or otherwise gain a benefit from their intake of a given substance. Other expectations are “negative” and focus on the harms associated with the use of alcohol or drugs. As a rule, a person’s expectations influence his or her likelihood of getting involved in substance use. In real-world terms, this means that people who expect positive or beneficial results from drugs or alcohol have a higher chance of participating in substance use than people who expect negative or harmful results. In addition, positive or negative expectations of the impact of substance use can alter the ongoing experience of drug- or alcohol-related effects in active users.
Expectations In Depressed Individuals
In the study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the U.S. research team used a test called the Marijuana Effect Expectancies Questionnaire (MEEQ) to assess the positive and negative expectations toward cannabis use in a group of 100 military veterans diagnosed with cannabis dependence (now known as one component of cannabis use disorder). These study participants also took another test, called the Inventory of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms (IDAS), designed in part to identify the presence of potentially diagnosable depression. In addition, all of the participants submitted information on the amount of cannabis they had consumed in the three-month period prior to the beginning of the study.
The researchers used a complex form of analysis to compare the results of each participant’s MEEQ and depression tests, and then used this comparison to help determine whether depressed cannabis users have positive or negative expectations toward intake of the drug. After completing their analysis, they concluded that cannabis use and depression are indirectly linked through positive expectations that depressed individuals hold regarding cannabis use. They did not find the same link between depression and negative expectations about cannabis use. The researchers found that the indirect link between depression and cannabis use is specifically related to a depression symptom called dysphoria, which revolves around an unusual state of unease, malaise or discomfort.
Researchers use the term indirect cause to describe contributing factors that help bring about a situation or condition, but don’t entirely account for that situation or condition like a direct cause. This means that, according to the conclusions made by the authors of the study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, positive expectations about the effects of cannabis help partially explain why depressed people use the drug, but don’t entirely explain why. Based on their findings, the authors believe that further examination of the impact of dysphoric depression symptoms may help broaden current understanding of why military veterans, in particular, begin using marijuana or other forms of cannabis.
20 Feb 2014
How Depression Increases Risks For Drug Overdose
A drug overdose occurs when an individual takes enough of a substance to overload the body’s organ systems and create a sharp drop in the ability to sustain life. Some people die from the impact of an overdose, while others manage to survive with or without medical assistance. In a study review published in January 2014 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a team of Italian and British researchers sought to determine how the presence of major depression or some other depressive disorder affects the likelihood that a drug user will experience a non-fatal overdose.
ER Treatment For Overdosing On Painkillers
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) track drug overdose rates across the U.S. According to the CDC’s latest available statistics (from 2011), roughly 2.5 million Americans require emergency room treatment for an overdose each year. More than half of all cases (about 1.4 million) occur in people using a medication rather than an illegal substance. Medications specifically highlighted for their presence in overdose cases include opioid narcotic painkillers and sedative-hypnotics called benzodiazepines.
Some people unintentionally overdose on drugs or medications while involved in prescribed or recreational use. However, others overdose intentionally while attempting to commit suicide. More than half of all people successfully or unsuccessfully treated for an overdose are men or boys. Slightly more than four out of every five overdose cases occur in adults over the age of 20.
Types Of Depressive Disorders
In addition to major depression, the depressive disorder category of mental health ailments (which comes from terms established by the American Psychiatric Association) includes conditions called persistent depressive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. The category also includes substance/medication-induced depressive disorder, a term specifically used to identify depression cases triggered by short- or long-term drug, alcohol or medication intake.
All depressive illnesses include episodes of “down” moods that substantially damage the ability to achieve a sense of well-being or function normally from day to day. The intensity and duration of these episodes vary according to both the effects of each specific illness and the way in which that illness manifests in the individual. People affected by another group of conditions, called bipolar disorders, also experience periods of a prominently “down” mood. One bipolar disorder in particular, called bipolar I disorder, produces periods of depression equally as severe as those found in people diagnosed with major depression.
Depression’s Impact On Non-Fatal Overdoses
In the study review published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers from five British and Italian institutions used a comprehensive analysis of previous research efforts to examine how the presence of a depressive disorder affects an individual’s non-fatal overdose risks. This analysis, based on seven studies, included essentially all commonly available information published on a related topic in the U.S. or Europe through September 2012. All told, the studies under consideration included 12,019 people living in the U.S., Australia, Sweden, Canada and Norway.
The researchers used two measurements to assess the impact of depression. First, they compared the overall rate of non-fatal drug overdose among depressed people to the rate of non-fatal overdose among people not affected by depression. They also calculated the odds that any given depressed drug user will overdose non-fatally and compared those odds to the chances that any given non-depressed drug user will overdose non-fatally.
The researchers found that depressed individuals overdose non-fatally 7 percent more often than non-depressed individuals. While this difference may seem small, it is actually highly significant in statistical terms. The researchers also found that, when compared to a non-depressed drug-using person, the odds that any given depressed drug-using person will experience a non-fatal overdose are 1.45 to 1.
Potential Factors Why Depression Leads To Higher Risks For Non-Fatal Drug Overdoses
The authors of the study review published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence don’t know for sure why depressed people have higher risks for a non-fatal drug overdose; potential factors may include higher drug dosages in depressed people and higher chances for multidrug use (a known contributor to overdose) in depressed people. They also note that no one can assume that the same situation holds true for fatal drug overdoses until someone comprehensively explores that issue. Still, they believe their findings clearly show that the connection between depressive illnesses and non-fatal drug overdoses is real. They also believe that the same connection probably exists between depressive illnesses and fatal drug overdoses.
Read More About New Research For Depression Treatment For Left Handers
We all have those voices in our heads—the critic, the tempter, the downer, the voices telling us we’ve never been anything and we shouldn’t even try. But in order to want sobriety and progress in recovery, we need to learn to silence the voices of opposition. But how do you get past the voices in your head that keep you in dysfunctional and destructive patterns?
Identify The Negative Voices
It helps to begin by identifying the messages flying around in your head. Whose voice is the one that you hear most strongly and loudly in your mind? Who is the one, though you are an adult, who is still criticizing you and tearing you down and insisting you conform to his or her way of life, dysfunctional as it may be? Listen to what you hear when you think you need to take a drink or get high. Who or what is controlling you without your permission?
Parents’ voices ring in our ears though they may be long dead. Through their words and actions they imposed their view of the world, relationships and love when we were in our youngest and most impressionable and vulnerable stages of life. We took that input at face value. We didn’t question if it was right or wrong or sane. And today, as adults, many of us are still living our lives guided by those dysfunctional, damaging beliefs.
Or maybe it was a harsh coach or teacher or a relentless sibling or school bully. Without realizing it we are still hearing these critical and insulting voices in our heads. We are still subconsciously dominated by the people whose opinion we may not even respect and whose approval we no longer covet. We need to begin to set ourselves free of these mental tyrants.
How To Let Go And Live For Ourselves
How do we learn to let go of others’ perceptions of the world? How do we live for ourselves rather than for the whims of some undefined them? We do it by beginning to intentionally perceive our own world. How do we think about things? What do we think we are capable of, regardless of what others have told us? What do we want out of life? What are the things we believe are most worth living for and pursuing? As an adult, you have the freedom to make your own decisions, have your own opinions and live in a way that is pleasing and healthy for you. What does that look like?
One woman, in a loving relationship with a man, was afraid to express her needs or her emotions for fear of being a burden. Her partner, however, didn’t view her emotions as anything other than valid and worthy of consideration and discussion. Still she feared being the “difficult woman” because of how her father viewed women and their needs and the way he conceptualized their motives as self-serving. But this experience was her father’s, not a universal truth about women and men.
As she grew up and desired to have a healthy and functional romantic relationship, she realized that she would need to put her father’s perceptions and prejudices about the world and relationships out of her mind in order to experience the world and her life as her own. Her father’s experience was not hers; she was not a demanding woman or self-serving. She did, however have emotions and needs that her partner was healthy enough to want to honor. She learned that not all women were self-serving or demanding and that not all men viewed them that way.
Evaluate What’s Helpful And What’s Not
As we progress through life and we see our frequent hang-ups, and the beliefs that don’t serve us, we have to begin to ask whose voice it is that we are hearing. Who is motivating the feelings of fear and apprehension we feel? Is it a parent telling you that you’ll never have what it takes? Or that you have never been good enough? Is it a competitive sibling making fun of your interests and talents? Is it a judgmental “friend” who was only trying to give you some helpful advice?
It is time to begin to evaluate that which is not helpful and then to let it go so that you may live free—free to determine your own life, free to recover and free to recognize and realize your own potential. How many of us drank or practiced our addictions because we couldn’t stand ourselves and needed an escape from our own reality? Or because we didn’t believe ourselves worthy of much better than playing out our lives as drunks and just getting by? Identifying the negative voices supporting those damaging beliefs can help us to see that we have been living a lie and are indeed worthy of so much more.
How Therapy Can Help
These life-controlling beliefs are deeply ingrained and they are hard to overcome—in many cases therapy may even be helpful in figuring out where the roots lie. Between our 12-step work and therapy, we gain the tools to uproot those old beliefs and toss them onto the compost pile. Your mind is your own; don’t give it over to the voices that only seek to tear you down. Live the victorious life that was meant for you.
Read More About Hope In Recovery
Healthcare treatment is often completely separated between those that are seeking mental health, substance abuse and medical health treatment. Communities have recently been integrating all of this patient care in one facility. For patients this means better care management as they are treated fully for all their needs with a network of health providers who can work together in helping the patient heal both mentally and physically, possibly including chronic pain management care.
Mental And Physical Health Connections
Research studies are more commonly finding links between mental and physical health.
Medical Ailments May Induce:
- Other mental illnesses
Mental Disorders May Conversely Affect A Person’s Ability To:
- Eat properly
- Take care of their physical health
A study by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) looked at the effects of integrating medical health with mental health, and is the first to study the integration of substance abuse treatment with medical health.
Doctors Need To Treat Both The Body And Mind For Best Recovery And Long-Term Management
As doctors learn more about the mind-body connections, they see the need to treat both the patient’s body and mind in order for the best recovery and life-long management. The research team at SPHHS reported that many community health centers, for example, were providing mental health treatment. Leighton Ku, PhD, MPH, Professor of Health Policy and Director of the SPHHS Center for Health Policy Research, asserts that these centers are leading the way in redefining primary health care to include both mental and medical treatments. Mental Health Treatment Centers have also moved towards treating the individual as a whole, both mentally and physically.
The SPHHS study reported that the larger the size of the center the more likely it was to offer mental health services. Also, if there were more psychologists and psychiatrists in the area they were better able to offer behavioral health services.
Available Substance Abuse Care – Crucial For Overall Recovery
While more community health centers are offering mental health care, the study revealed that not as many centers are offering substance abuse care or crisis counseling. These centers are missing an integral part of the treatment process that is important for the overall recovery of their patients. Many larger professional treatment centers can offer the substance abuse care and crisis counseling that is needed by those struggling also with mental health conditions. This is an important part of long-term recovery.
Because of billing complications community health centers in some states are not as likely to offer substance abuse treatment or 24-hour crisis counseling. Drug and alcohol abuse most certainly affects the body, both mentally and physically. Treatment of one without the other can affect the results of treatment for the individual.
The lead author of the SPHHS study, Emily Jones, PhD, MPP, believes that if more people can be provided drug and alcohol abuse treatment – at any hour when they desperately need crisis counseling – the patient will have a better chance at recovery. Dr. Jones originally started this study and now works for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Complete Healing In Health Care
Complete healing happens when both body and mind are free of pain and suffering. Researchers like Jones find hope for integrating services as other research studies are finding multiple links between physical illnesses and mental illnesses. As doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and substance abuse treatment professionals combine their forces in health care, more patients will find healing and the recovery process will be improved as it meets the needs of each patient on a more comprehensive level.
Read More About Mental Health And Drug Abuse Care