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Alcohol abuse is a common sidekick to depression.
Depression symptoms are very hard to endure. Someone who struggles with this mood disorder knows all too well how much they just want to feel normal again. You drag yourself through the days, stuck in a gray funk with no relief in sight.
It is no surprise that drinking is a common way that people decide to manage the symptoms of depression. Alcohol tends to lessen the impact of the depression to some extent. This effect, though, is threatened by continued alcohol use that could turn into an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
There is too much at risk for someone with depression who is also alcoholic. Each of these disorders makes the other one worse, and that can have a dangerous outcome. There are ways to help manage depression without risking an AUD. Keep reading to learn more about those healthy options.
The Signs of Depression
While we all suffer from tough chapters in our lives, most of us can gut out the blues and be okay with time. But when the symptoms hang on and don’t resolve in a couple of weeks, you could have depression.
The DSM-5 outlines the symptoms, and states that five or more symptoms points to a diagnosis of depression. The symptoms include:
- Feelings of sadness and despair most of the time
- Extreme fatigue
- Slowed motor and cognitive functions
- Sleep problems
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Trouble making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
When symptoms of depression are present, the first step is to rule out a health issue. If there is none, then you will be referred to a mental health expert for help.
How Depression Leads to Drinking
Like a vicious cycle, you feel sad, hopeless, have trouble sleeping, and struggle with guilt, so you drink. You may use alcohol as a means to mask the pain, only to find that you need it more and more as time goes on. The danger of leaning on alcohol to manage the symptoms is becoming saddled with depression and being alcoholic.
An article published in Psychology Today states that nearly 50% of the people in treatment for alcoholism present with co-occurring depression. The article also states that of those being treated for depression, almost 40% will also struggle with an alcohol use disorder at some point in their life. The two problems are linked with depressed alcoholics.
Women Alcoholics and Depression
Women are even more prone to this dual diagnosis. An article reports that there is a 1.7-fold higher rate of depression among women versus men. Even more pronounced, over twice as many among young women under age 25 have depression.
In addition to higher depression rates, women are also more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Because of a woman’s smaller size and higher fat content, it takes less alcohol to affect them. Women become intoxicated faster than men, and it also takes longer for alcohol to be processed in the body. This means that long-term health problems due to an AUD are increased in women.
Even the CDC has weighed in. They report that alcohol abuse in women leads to higher liver disease rates than men. Also, drinking does more damage to the brain and heart than men. Women with an AUD also suffer higher rates of sexual assault.
Heightened Risk of Suicide
People with both depression and an AUD have an increased risk of suicide. SAMHSA states that about 32% of all suicides involved people with blood alcohol limits at or above the legal limit. Also, it found that 50% of those who took their own life had suffered from depression.
One study reports the lifetime risk of suicide among alcoholics is 10%-15%. As well, it found that depression and alcoholism were comorbid in 85% of 100 suicides. People with an AUD are at a 10-fold higher risk for suicide as compared to the public. Because of the much higher risk for suicide, people with both disorders need specialized treatment. A dual diagnosis program treats both at the same time.
Healthy Ways to Manage Depression
When you are going through a depressive episode there are better ways to control the symptoms than drinking. These are all substance-free options that will help your manage depression symptoms:
- Exercise. Being active 3-5 times per week for 30-60 minutes each time can be great for mental health. Movement and motion provide many mental health benefits. Exercise helps to balance brain chemistry, which can boost your mood. Other ways that movement helps mental health include getting better sleep and improved self-esteem.
- Meditation. Meditation has been found to help depression symptoms. Through a guided script in audio format, you allow your mind to go to a happy place. As you practice these guided meditation journeys you will find it easier to shift your mood state.
- Deep-breathing techniques. Breath work is a quick and easy way to reduce stress. Depression gets worse when we are stressed out. Use deep breathing to control stress and improve your mood.
- Yoga. Yoga involves three things: 1. Purposeful movements and poses, 2. Controlled breathing, and 3. Meditation. The slow stretches and balance work used in the yoga poses can help keep stress under control and improve your mood.
- Nutritious meals. Brain health is closely tied to what we eat. Research shows that some foods can help reduce depression symptoms. These include complex carbs, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and nuts and seeds. Vitamin D and omega-3 fish oil can also help relieve symptoms.
If these actions do not provide relief from the depression and your drinking worsens, you will need more help. A dual diagnosis treatment program will address both problems. These programs are designed to tackle co-occurring issues like depression and alcoholism at the same time.
Capo by the Sea Offers Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Capo by the Sea is an elite treatment program nestled in a quiet coastal town. Capo by the Sea offers the highest grade of treatment interventions for people who struggle with alcohol abuse with or without depression. The tranquil seaside setting provides the perfect setting for healing and therapy. Reach out to the team today at (888) 529-2114.