Sadly, depression is not like having a cold. You can’t take antibiotics and get over it. Instead, depression treatment requires ongoing care. Although some people might experience depression for a few years (or months) and never experience it again, others fight depression their whole lives. In many cases, depression may require a lifestyle change, new eating habits, a support network, and staying in communication with mental health providers in order to keep the blues away.
However, this doesn’t mean that depression treatment and other forms of mental health treatment aren’t useful. Indeed, they are. Depression treatment can give a person relief from their symptoms, a period of reprieve from the illness, and long stretches of living a meaningful life without the interference of depression. For those with low levels of depression, treatment can help return a person to living the life they want. And for a good number of those with depression, who also experience suicidal thoughts, depression treatment can be lifesaving.
Yet, for those who aren’t in depression treatment, untreated symptoms can trigger the use of substances or relapse. Depression affects a person’s mood, emotions, and thoughts. When a person feels as though they don’t have the ability to cope with their thoughts and feelings, especially if they are feeling suicidal, it’s easy to turn to drugs and alcohol to feel better. It’s common for someone facing symptoms of mental illness to not even recognize that they have a disorder at all. Commonly, it’s not until a person is in treatment that they realize what they were experiencing was a mental illness and that they needed substances alcohol to cope.
Yet, the presence of both depression and addiction can be complicated. For instance, if a person were taking medication for their depression, alcohol and drugs can interfere with that medication’s effectiveness. Furthermore, when a person suffers from both illnesses, the risk of suicide increases to 1 in 4 people.
One focus of mental health providers is educating the public on the benefits of depression treatment and how it can heal, but also its shortcomings. According to research, one in three people will go into remission with depression treatment, while one in three people will improve but not go into remission. And lastly, one in three people won’t see an improvement at all. This is important information to know when seeking depression treatment, especially if someone is also hoping to find relief from addiction. Commonly, once a person feels better as a result from treating a mental illness, they feel better equipped to avoid the use of substances. However, if depression treatment is unsuccessful, then a person might also continue to struggle with substance use. Sharing the realities of treatment in the mental health field can help a person explore other tools (yoga, meditation, other alternative forms of treatment) for healing and recovery.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and/or addiction, discuss the various treatment options with your mental health provider.
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