Depression is common among those who suffer from addictions. Alcohol and drugs are often a way to mask or escape the feelings of low-self worth and little energy. However, depression, like addiction, is often ignored. And perhaps it’s ignored for what appears to be a good reason – because it comes with a stigma, because it’s hard to tell anyone, because if your friends and family found out they might be judgmental and rejecting. But, the truth is, if depression goes without being properly treated, it can get worse and lead to some harmful circumstances.
For instance, depression can lead to the following difficult situations:
Drug Use – As mentioned above, alcohol and drug use are a means for escape, which might be the best coping mechanism you have. Although there are many other healthier ways to cope with life and experiences of depression, drugs provide a high and can make life feel different than the depressive symptoms you’re used to feeling.
Poor Work Performance – Another symptom of depression is lack of concentration. Without the ability to concentrate and without feeling good about yourself, performing well occupationally can become challenge.
Social Issues – Depression also comes with feelings of worthlessness, frequent validation, and attention from others. These can create dysfunctional and risky relationships and social withdrawal.
Poor Athletic Performance – The symptoms of low energy, irritability, poor concentration, and lack of confidence, common with depression, can lead to poor sports performance. As this declines, this might only facilitate a downward emotional spiral, particularly for men.
Reckless Behavior – Those who are not emotionally stable might engage in risky behavior providing them with a means for feeling different and escaping their internal experience. However, having unprotected sex and engaging in illegal activities can affect one’s life long-term.
These are only a few examples of the way depression can lead to risky situations. Sometimes, not feeling good on the inside can lead to finding ways to feel better – fast! However, the most dangerous result of untreated depression is suicide. Although it might be obvious, experts have made the connection between thoughts that commonly appear with depression and the desire to commit suicide. For instance, when you’re not feeling good about yourself and your life, which is a primary symptom of depression, thoughts about death are common and there is sometimes a strong enough disdain for your life that suicide starts to feel like an option.
Although suicide is difficult to predict, there are some signs that indicate that a person might be contemplating it. Research shows that many give clear warning signs before taking their lives. Some of these warning signs are:
- Talking about dying.
- A change in personality.
- Change in eating habits.
- Fear of losing control.
- Low self esteem.
- No hope for the future.
- Threats of suicide — either direct or indirect.
- Verbal hints such as “I won’t be around much longer” or “It’s hopeless.
- Obsession with death.
- Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or rejection.
- Putting affairs in order (for example, giving or throwing away favorite possessions).
- Sudden cheerfulness after a period of depression.
- Dramatic change in personality or appearance.
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
Yet, it’s important to know that both depression and addiction are treatable. Even after a prolonged addiction, recovery is still possible, albeit difficult. Treatment for drug addiction is not unlike treating a chronic illness. It must include the transformation of deeply embedded habits, thoughts, and beliefs. As these internal patterns find change, the experience of addiction and depression will also change.
Furthermore, there are medications and specific types of therapy that have been successful in the treatment of addiction and psychological illness. With your commitment to sobriety, your willingness to do what it takes to stay sober, medication and therapy, full recovery is absolutely possible.
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