The National Institute of Mental Health reports that approximately 17 million adults in the U.S. experienced at least one major depressive episode per year. About 16% of all people will experience depression at least once in their lifetime. The same study showed that about 60% of people who experience a major depressive episode do not seek treatment.
Women reported having major depressive episodes at a higher rate than men. The age group showing the highest number of cases was 18-25. Depression affects all age groups, races, genders, religious, and economic backgrounds.
What Is Depression?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a major depressive episode as experiencing a period of at least two weeks with a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities. This definition includes depression caused by substance use disorders, medication, or medical illness.
Depression (major depressive disorder) is considered to be a serious medical illness. Its impact can affect how a person thinks, feels, and acts. This mood disorder is treatable, making seeking help for it imperative. Talk therapy can help a great deal. Regular sessions with a licensed counselor typically cover an analysis of the person’s past and any lingering emotions that may still affect them in their current lives.
Therapists also help their clients identify issues going on currently and determine concrete ways to address them. Having a neutral party provide feedback and consistent support, while also compassionately challenging a person to make progress, can provide huge payoffs in learning to heal from depression.
Depression can have its roots in several different areas. Genetics may play a part, as depression can run in families. A person’s unique brain chemistry may put them at a higher risk than others for developing depression.
Environmental factors often play into the development of depression. A person raised in a violent or neglectful home, or one who experiences abuse or has trauma that is either ongoing or in their past may become depressed. Even individual personalities can have an impact. A person who tends towards pessimism or commonly feels overwhelmed by stress may be more susceptible to depression.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Sometimes recognizing depression in a person can be fairly easy, but many times the condition doesn’t seem obvious. Some common signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Lack of energy
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Loss of interest in relationships, work, hobbies, and other activities
- Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Feeling frustrated or angry
- Decreased or increased appetite, sometimes resulting in weight loss or gain
- Feeling guilty or unworthy
- Cloudy thinking and difficulty making decisions
- Loss of interest in sex
- Physical ailments, such as headaches, digestive problems, and body aches
- Self-harming, such as cutting themselves
- Alcohol or drug abuse or addiction
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Drug and Alcohol Addiction Can Mask Depression
Many people turn to alcohol and drug addiction to cope with undiagnosed depression. Half of the people who develop a substance use disorder also experience a mental health diagnosis at the same time. In many cases, depression accompanies the person’s addiction.
For a lot of people, depression developed first. If the individual remains unaware of their condition or unsure about how to seek treatment for it, they may turn to alcohol and drugs. What starts out as a temporary unhealthy coping skill can become a full-blown addiction and require professional treatment.
Physical Symptoms May Be a Result of Depression
Often people who deal with depression experience many physical symptoms without realizing the correlation between the two. Common ailments include headaches, insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, and body aches.
When someone suffers from these types of physical symptoms without understanding they are tied to their depression, it makes treatment difficult. People often use over-the-counter medications to help treat their symptoms, despite how recurrent they are.
A doctor who does not do a full analysis of a patient may also take the symptoms at face value. Physicians often rely on prescription medications to treat physical symptoms. A patient may be best served by having a full physical and psychological profile done in order to best understand possible sources for all of their symptoms.
Treatment For Depression and Addiction
The prevalence of substance use disorders accompanied by mental health issues remains consistently high. For this reason, professional treatment programs often address both conditions.
Residential, partial hospitalization programs, and sober living housing often offer their clients support in managing their mental health alongside their recovery from addiction. Clients who receive this dual support often find two things happen:
- As the depression is treated and becomes less of an issue, the desire to rely on addictive substances lessens
- When the person has entered recovery for their addiction, the depressed feelings often dissipate a great deal
The two approaches for treating both addiction and depression work well in tandem. When the results for this start to become clear, many patients find it easier to stay on the path to recovery.
Addiction Rehab in California
Are you a young adult who suffers from addiction to drugs or alcohol and is ready to get help? Riviera Recovery offers professional treatment for addiction and accompanying mental health issues such as depression. Our gender-specific sober living housing helps prepare you for returning home with the confidence to lead a sober life. Contact Riviera Recovery today to get started on a healthy, happy new you!