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Living With Depressed Alcoholic Husband
What can you do when you realize, “My husband is depressed and drinking.” How can you get him the help he needs? Read on to learn more.
Yes, men get depressed, too. That may come as a surprise, as depression is more common in women, but men also struggle with depression. Men, however, may express their depression in very different ways. One of the more common ways is by excessive drinking.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
Major depressive disorder is characterized by nine symptoms, which are present in both men and women. When at least five of these symptoms are present for more than two weeks, a diagnosis of depression is made:
- Feeling sad or hopeless.
- Change in sleep habits; sleeping more or less than usual.
- Slowed thinking and movements.
- Trouble paying attention or making decisions.
- Feelings of guilt or shame.
- Changes in eating habits; sudden weight gain or loss.
- Loss of interest in things once enjoyed.
- Thoughts of suicide.
Depression in Men
While it’s true that women suffer depression at about double the rate as men, men do get depressed, too. But because men are not as open about sharing their feelings they often sweep their depression under a rug. This can cause their mental health disorder to go undiagnosed, which can have serious effects as time goes on.
There are many reasons why men are more private about their mental health status. These include:
- Don’t want to appear weak.
- Fear the stigma of mental health issues.
- Assume it will blow over.
Men tend to reveal they’re depressed mood state in different ways. These are male-specific responses to depression that don’t really fit the usual list of symptoms.
- Anger. A depressed man might become irritable and lash out in anger for no apparent reason.
- Loss of libido. Depression impacts brain chemistry, which can cause a man to lose his sex drive.
- Ignores obligations. Because depression causes despair, a man who usually would take responsibility for things may let go of their obligations.
- Substance abuse. Men are more inclined to abuse alcohol and drugs when they are depressed as a way to numb the symptoms.
- High-risk behaviors. Men who stuff their feelings of depression might act out their frustration by engaging in risky behaviors.
- More controlling. Because the symptoms of depression cause a man to feel out of control, he may compensate by being more controlling.
- Suicidal thoughts. While suicidal thoughts are a common sign in both men and women, this tends to be more common in men.
Drinking as Way to Self-Medicate Depression
If your husband is depressed and drinking you are probably getting nervous about it. This gut feeling to be worried is actually very intuitive. Alcohol abuse plus depression happens to be a very risky combo.
It is common for people who suffer from the symptoms of depression to use alcohol as a means to self-medicate. If the depression lingers and tolerance to alcohol increases, an AUD can result.
An article in Psychology Today states that nearly 50% of the patients in treatment for alcoholism present with co-occurring depression. This article also links depression with alcohol use disorder (AUD). It reports that 40% of depression patients will also struggle with AUD at some point in their life.
Because alcohol is a depressant when someone who has depression drinks it only worsens their symptoms. These co-occurring disorders, alcoholism, and depression can greatly increase the risk of suicide. It is right to be concerned if your husband is depressed and drinking.
Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder
So, how do you know if your depressed husband has developed a drinking problem? Consider these common signs and symptoms of AUD:
- Can’t control his alcohol intake.
- Unsuccessful when attempting to quit drinking.
- Strong alcohol cravings.
- Increased tolerance and alcohol consumption.
- Ignores obligations.
- Loss of interest in hobbies or social events.
- Continues to drink regardless of the adverse effects.
- Engages in high-risk behaviors while drinking.
- Experiences withdrawal symptoms when not drinking.
What Causes Depression?
There is much about depression that is not yet understood. There are some factors that are believed to play a role in depressive disorder, including:
- Family history. It has been found that depression can run in families.
- Brain chemistry. Studies of neural activity and brain chemistry imbalances show these to be factors in faulty mood regulation.
- Personality. Our unique temperaments or personalities may affect how we process and manage stressful life events.
- Stressful life events. Physical or sexual abuse, sudden loss of a loved one, trauma, or divorce can trigger a depressive disorder.
- Medical conditions. Certain health conditions may trigger a depressive disorder. These include cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, lupus, stroke, dementia, or HIV.
It is also possible that the alcohol abuse actually led to the depression. The husband may have already been a heavy drinker. Then as he began seeing his life adversely impacted by alcoholism, it could have triggered depression.
Getting Help for a Depression and Alcoholism
The specialized treatment for those with two or more co-existing disorders is called dual diagnosis treatment. This type of program will blend psychiatric treatment for the depression with addiction treatment for the alcoholism.
A dual diagnosis program provides evidence-based protocols for helping someone work through both disorders at the same time. It is fruitless to only treat one of these disorders. To achieve lasting recovery results, both co-occurring disorders must be treated together. Treatment involves a menu of therapies, classes, group meetings, and medication.
If you have been concerned about your husband being depressed and drinking, don’t delay. Instead, gently guide him to meet with a mental health or addiction expert.
Capo by the Sea Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center
Capo by the Sea is an upscale addiction and dual diagnosis treatment center. We provide expert care to people seeking to overcome depression and alcohol abuse. For more detail about our program, please contact us today at (888) 529-2114.