Last Updated on May 21, 2021 by Morris Green
Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages experience depression. But for those experiencing depression during addiction recovery, there may be additional challenges that can make the road to recovery much more difficult. From recognizing the signs to how depression can affect recovery, as well as potential solutions, here’s what you need to know.
Recognizing the signs
Nearly 9 million people have a co-occurring disorder, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, meaning that experiencing a mental illness like depression at the same time as addiction is quite common. However, it’s worth mentioning that it’s often difficult to determine which condition came first, and research actually suggests that substance abuse and mental illness are part of a vicious cycle, with the presence of one increasing the risk of developing the other. Because one can affect the other, and even make the other worse, it’s imperative to recognize the signs in order to get the right treatment. Some notable symptoms of depression include a hopeless outlook, anxiety, a loss of interest in activities/hobbies that were once enjoyable, changes in appetite, and decreased energy and fatigue.
The challenges involved
While there are a number of difficulties associated with depression alone, those who are recovering from addiction may encounter additional challenges. This is primarily because depression and addiction can affect one another, and this can make the recovery process much more difficult. For someone going through recovery, symptoms of depression such as feeling hopeless can make the thought of ever becoming sober seem unattainable. Depression could also make a recovering addict want to fall back on their addictions in order to cope with how they’re feeling and ease their pain, which can lead to a relapse. This can significantly set back someone in recovery, making treatment for both issues an absolute must.
Finding a solution
When it comes to finding a solution, it’s important that both conditions are treated simultaneously. Depending on the person and their situation, treatment may include medication, therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT), or a combination of both. However, there are also alternative solutions that can present options for those who feel as though traditional treatments aren’t working — such as ketamine.
Ketamine is generally used by doctors as an anesthetic, but it has been controversial due to the illegal use of the drug by those who seek out the mental state of disconnect it induces. However, many categorize ketamine as a life saver, as the drug shows great promise in treating depression. For those who respond to the drug, it can rapidly reduce suicidal thoughts, as well as other serious symptoms of depression, thus allowing it to present a quicker-working solution than other medications (which can often take months to produce results). However, despite the potential benefits of ketamine treatment for depression, it’s important to realize that the drug may not be suitable for everyone going through addiction recovery, due to its high potential for misuse and need for close monitoring.
The road to addiction recovery can often be a long and hard one already, but those who experience depression during the recovery process may face additional challenges. For this reason, it’s important to know that there are treatments available, and that treating both conditions simultaneously is necessary in order to prevent relapse.