Understanding Depression: Symptoms and Treatment

Depression can feel like you are carrying a heavy burden, but it’s vital to remember that you are not alone in this struggle. Depression is a serious yet very common mental health disorder that affects an estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States every year. Being depressed can feel like you are carrying a heavy weight on your shoulders, but it’s vital to remember that you are not alone in this struggle. Gaining a deeper understanding of depression can help those in need to take the first step towards recovery.

Some people may think of depression and immediately think of just being sad or stressed. In reality, it’s much more than that. Clinical depression is a complex mood disorder that interrupts an individual daily life, making it difficult for them to function normally. For most individuals, a period of sadness can be overcome by things that make them happy. But for those that suffer from clinical depression, the emotional lows don’t resolve that easily. The condition is characterized by prolonged feelings of hopelessness and loss of interest. If symptoms continue for a period of two weeks or more, it’s considered a serious depressive episode. 

Symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression can differ from person to person, nevertheless, there are some common signs and symptoms associated with depression. Keep in mind that these symptoms can also apply to the normal emotional lows in life. However, the more symptoms that a person has, the stronger they are, and the longer they persist are all indications of clinical depression. Some of the common symptoms of depression include:

    • Feeling helpless and hopeless. Individuals dealing with depression often have a very bleak outlook on life. They feel as though nothing can be done to improve how they feel and it will never get better. 
    • Unexplained physical aches and pains. Depression can cause real changes in the body relating to the nerve pathways in the brain. Physical problems such as back pain, headaches, and stomach aches are common signs of depression.
    • Energy loss. Being depressed often leads a person to feel drained, sluggish, and fatigued so even the smallest tasks require extra effort. 
    • Difficulty concentrating. Depression consumes a person so much that they often have trouble focusing, making decisions, and remembering things.
    • Loss of interest. People with depression lose interest in things that have previously brought them joy. This includes former hobbies, social activities, and relationships. It is related to losing the ability to feel joy and pleasure. 
    • Appetite or sudden weight changes. Depression is linked to sudden significant weight loss or weight gain as individuals have trouble eating or develop intense food cravings.
  • Dangerous behavior. Being depressed can increase the chances that an individual engages in dangerous behavior such as substance abuse, reckless driving, or compulsive gambling. 
  • Angry outbursts. People with depression often feel restless, agitated, and irritable. This results in a low patience level, a short temper, and decreased tolerance. Individuals often have angry outbursts over even the smallest matters. 
  • Change in sleep patterns. Depression interrupts a person’s sleep patterns with insomnia, oversleeping, or waking up in the early morning hours. 
  • Self-loathing. Those with depression tend to experience strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt about their condition. They harshly judge themselves for their perceived faults and mistakes. 
  • Recurrent suicidal thoughts. Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The feelings of helplessness that goes along with the condition can make individuals experience suicidal thoughts. 

Depression and Substance Abuse 

It’s easy to understand why depression can be a gateway to drug and alcohol abuse. Individuals who have trouble coping with depression symptoms often use substances to escape their negative emotions. Substance use will only relieve symptoms temporarily and worsen them in the long-run. Consuming drugs and alcohol on a regular basis increase the chances of developing a full-blown addiction as they continue to self-medicate. 

Some of the signs that substance use is turning into addiction include:

  • Increased tolerance. As the individual continues to use substances, the body becomes accustomed to the drug’s effects. This results in the individual having to take large amounts in order to achieve the same effect. 
  • Withdrawal symptoms: When an individual reduces their intake of substances and they start to get physical symptoms of nausea, tremors, cold sweats, or agitation, they are having withdrawal symptoms.
  • Relapse. If an individual attempts to stop using the substance but experiences uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and cravings that draws them back, it’s likely that they are addicted. 

Treatment for Depression

When an individual is diagnosed with depression along with a substance abuse disorder, it is referred to as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. It’s important to treat both conditions simultaneously, as treating only one condition could cause a relapse. A treatment facility that has a dual diagnosis approach will create an integrated treatment plan that includes both medical detox and psychiatric programs. 

Novo Detox is a dual diagnosis program that specializes in detox and residential care. We understand the complicated nature of a co-occurring disorder. Clients work closely with our clinical staff to develop a plan to treat addiction as well as the underlying causes. If you are suffering from depression and/or substance abuse, don’t hesitate to contact us today for help.

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