Mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, is very commonly an accompaniment to addiction. In fact, they are so frequently a pair that there are many addiction treatment centers that offer what’s called integrated treatment. That is, they offer mental health treatment that addresses both the addiction as well as the mental illness.
Frequently, men and women who are suffering from addiction are not aware that they are also suffering from a mental illness. Often, this comes to light during treatment, such as during the withdrawal phase or later when one’s awareness of self grows stronger.
Fortunately, part of treatment is learning about the dynamics of addiction, and with that comes education on various forms of mental illness. Although mental illness doesn’t always accompany addiction, it is a frequent enough occurrence that it’s worthy of learning about. Furthermore, even if you discover that you do not possess a mental illness, it’s also quite common to discover that someone in your family is suffering from mental illness. For instance, your spouse, children, parents, or siblings might have experienced depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, which might in turn contribute to the kind of relationship you had with that person.
If you’re curious about mental illness and want to know what to look for, common signs of depression include:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleep changes
- Loss of energy
- Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Concentration problems
- Anger, physical pain, and reckless behavior (especially in men)
Common signs of bipolar disorder include the above listed symptoms of depression as well as these signs of mania:
- Feelings of euphoria or extreme irritability
- Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs
- Decreased need for sleep
- Increased energy
- Rapid speech and racing thoughts
- Impaired judgment and impulsivity
- Anger or rage
Common signs of anxiety includes:
- Excessive tension and worry
- Feeling restless or jumpy
- Irritability or feeling “on edge”
- Racing heart or shortness of breath
- Nausea, trembling, or dizziness
- Muscle tension, headaches
- Trouble concentrating
Having both a mental illness and an addiction is called having a dual diagnosis. It’s also sometimes referred to as having a co-occurring disorder. Because this is such a frequent occurrence, many treatment centers are becoming more and more prepared to treat both illnesses. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) treatment should:
- Provide special counseling that is designed for those with dual diagnosis.
- Help you identify and develop your recovery goals.
- Help you become involved with supported employment and other services.
- Offer you a chance to learn more about drugs, alcohol, and addiction, as well as understand how mental illness can play a role in addiction.
- Help you identify the role that drugs and alcohol play in your life. Knowing this can facilitate making changes and finding other ways to meet the needs that alcohol and drugs are attempting to meet.
If you do in fact have a mental illness as well as an addiction, it’s necessary that you receive treatment for both. Without treatment, the mental illness can worsen the addiction and the addiction can make the mental illness worse. Treating both simultaneously is necessary for optimal recovery. If this is the case for you, be sure to find a treatment center that can treat both illnesses. If you can’t find this, contact a mental health professional for assistance.
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