Sometimes, depression can lead us to drink. We feel so uncomfortable with who we are, how are lives are functioning, and it hurts. Although depression is a psychological disorder, it can be painful both emotionally and psychologically. You might think that depression doesn’t hurt, but it can. In fact, untreated depression that gets worse and worse can lead to physical pain. It can lead to chronic aches in the body and severe back pain. It’s as though unexpressed emotional pain wants to find its way out and does through the body.
Furthermore, the word “depression” has Latin roots that mean “pressed down.” It is as though the energy of the mind and heart has been pushed inward instead of expressed and leaves an individual feeling “down,” despondent, or low.
Common Symptoms of Depression
- A depressed mood
- Loss of interest in activities
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal thoughts
- Poor concentration
- Poor memory
- Slow thinking
- Loss of motivation
- Sleep disturbance – insomnia/hypersomnia
- Appetite disturbance – weight loss/gain
Some, if not all of these symptoms can lead to drinking. The dissatisfaction with one’s life, the inability to feel anything, the lack of connection with oneself and others might stimulate the desire to drink. In fact, it might drive an entire addiction.
It might be obvious that in order to create a life of sobriety, in order to finally get clean, the psychological disorder of depression needs to heal. Addiction typically has underlying issues that need to be treated. One can make the choice to get seek recovery, to create a network of support in sober living, and even create a new life. However, if those underlying issues are not addressed, and in this case, those that led to depression, there is likely going to be relapse. There is likely to be a reoccurrence of drinking, which is none other than a pattern of self-destruction. Addiction is a recurring pattern of self-harm.
But why would someone want to continue to destroy his or her life? That’s the very question that needs to be examined. What are the beliefs and the perceptions that might cause a sense of self-hatred? When there is self-hatred, when there was early trauma, and when there is a tendency to think ill of oneself, there is often an accompanying pattern of self-harm. Clearly, then one of the ways to heal from addiction to finally stay clean in recovery is to turn that self-hatred around to self-love through healthy sober living tools and practices. An individual can stop the pattern of self-destruction in its tracks by finding self-love and by making choices that are no longer destructive but instead life-affirming.
At first, however, getting and staying sober will require treating depression, which is a treatable psychological disorder. With the right medication combined with therapy, an individual’s mood can stabilize and he or she can return to a healthy level of functioning at school, home, and work. What’s important to know is that depression is best treated with a combination of both medication and therapy. Medication alone is not a thorough treatment plan for depression.
Once that is addressed and a person’s mood is at a level where he or she can function (often depression affects one’s ability to concentrate which can impair work skills and relationships), then the underlying issues can be addressed. Namely, this is the great transformation of self-hatred to self-love, the wonderful personal revolution from destroying life to creating a new one.
Facilitating recovery in sober living and staying clean is a choice, your choice, of loving life. It is a practice of honoring a relationship with oneself.