Depression impacts the lives of several Americans each year. The LA Times explains that roughly one in thirteen Americans have moderate to severe depression, but only about 35 percent with severe depression and 20 percent with moderate depression seek professional treatment. Even when individuals seek treatment, the risk of addiction and depression co-occurring is high. When a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol, considering his or her behavior before the addiction is essential for a realistic treatment plan.

Using Drugs or Alcohol Instead of Treating Addiction

According to Psych Central, denying a mental health disorder or avoiding treatment for depression contributes to addiction. When a mental health disorder, like depression or depressive disorders, is not treated, an individual is more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs in an effort to self-medicate and avoid the negative emotions associated with the disorder.

WebMD reports that about one-third of individuals who have severe depression abuse alcohol. In most cases, severe depression develops before an addiction or substance abuse. Individuals attempt to avoid or ignore the symptoms of depression by abusing a substance. Unfortunately, alcohol or drug abuse increases the symptoms over time and makes the problem worse.

Even if a loved one is not diagnosed with addiction and depression, alcohol or drug abuse changes the brain and chemical balance in the body. As a result, it brings out underlying symptoms of depression and sometimes causes depressive disorders.

Addiction and Depression Treatment

Although substance abuse is often associated with depression and depressive disorders, the LA Times reports that basic treatment for the disorder does not always reduce the risk of addiction. Using medication without additional treatment does not resolve the underlying cause of severe depression.

According to the LA Times, the best treatment for depression is a combination of therapy and appropriate medical treatments. Abusing a prescription medication is dangerous for the health and well-being of a loved one. Prescription medications for depression help reduce the symptoms for a short duration of time, but it does not address the underlying cause of depression.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or ADAA, estimates that 20 percent of Americans with a mood disorder abuse drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, a mood disorder increases the risk of substance abuse by two to three times when compared to the general population. Using medication with an appropriate therapy program and medical guidance helps with depression. Unfortunately, taking medication without additional treatment increases the risk of substance abuse as individuals might use more than the recommended amount to try and “fix” the depression.

Treating Addiction and Depression

The LA Times states that the best treatment for addiction and depression is a therapeutic approach because it addresses the cause of depression. When an individual is also abusing drugs or alcohol, a treatment program must address the addiction at the same time as the depression. A dual diagnosis ensures that a treatment plan will focus on the needs of the individual and not just one problem.

Treating an addiction or severe depression requires an appropriate program and plan of action. A licensed treatment program addresses the addiction and depression at the same time so that an individual can focus on his or her recovery goals.