The Link Between Sobriety and Depression and How to Cope

sobriety and depression

Are you struggling with depression and trying to maintain your sobriety at the same time? You’re not alone. About one in three adults had either a substance abuse disorder or mental illness in the past year.

Many people assume that dealing with depression is easier after learning how to manage sobriety, but that’s not the case. What’s the connection between sobriety and depression, and how can you hope? Read on to find out.

Connecting Sobriety and Depression

Many substance abusers become addicted because they’re struggling with depressive symptoms. Drinking or using drugs may numb these symptoms. However, using can eventually make these symptoms worse, creating an endless cycle.

If you’re dealing with depression and substance abuse, you have a dual diagnosis (also called a comorbid diagnosis). Sometimes, a dual diagnosis occurs as a result of substance abuse. In some cases, mental health problems lead to substance abuse in the first place.

Depression During Recovery

Drugs or alcohol can feel like a loyal friend to someone coping with depression. People may feel that their substance of choice is a support when they feel anxious, stressed, or upset. Starting on a path to sobriety can feel like the loss of a loved one.

Losing access to drugs or alcohol can create feelings of sadness at first. An individual may feel lost, hopeless, and alone while experiencing shame and guilt. This process can make symptoms of depression worse.

Many individuals feel physically and emotionally unwell during the detox stage. Your body will need time to adjust once you stop drinking.

Heavy drinking can alter brain chemistry, causing intense emotions during a detox. These brain chemistry changes can cause depression.

During an addiction, the mind becomes accustomed to an influx of neurotransmitters. Detoxing and getting sober requires the brain to adjust to the lack of dopamine. Feelings of depression are part of the process as the body adjusts.

Coping With Depression and Sobriety

Dealing with depression while detoxing can impede your path to sobriety. Let a professional know if you experience:

  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Cycles of negative thoughts
  • Fear of facing the day
  • Lethargy/fatigue
  • Disrupted eating habits
  • Difficulty getting out of bed

If you experience these symptoms more than a few days, you’re possibly depressed. Seeking medical treatment can help you start coping with depression and maintain your sobriety.

A healthcare provider will determine the best course of treatment if you have a dual diagnosis. Treatment may include medication to interact with the chemicals that are causing depressive symptoms.

Psychotherapy and group therapy can also help. Consider joining a support group in addition to medical treatment.

Manage Sobriety and Depression Today

Learning how to manage sobriety is an ongoing process, but understanding the connection between sobriety and depression can help. If you’re experiencing symptoms, don’t wait to seek treatment. Therapy and medication can help you stay on the path to recovery.

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