Clinical depression is a serious mental condition which is chronic and lifelong. Alcohol abuse often occurs in conjunction with depression because it is used to numb psychological pain or ‘put feelings to sleep’. The question is: Does alcohol make depression worse or does depression make alcohol abuse worse? Both are possible.
People suffering from depression can often have a form of masked depression where they continue to perform daily tasks in a high-functioning manner before they either seek professional treatment or develop co-morbid conditions that can result in addiction. Dealing with depression is really hard, because on the outside people may appear perfectly normal and in control. The turmoil of emotion they feel on the inside includes the following:
Symptoms of depression:
- A foreboding sense of hopelessness
- Inescapable anxiety
- Apathy and a disinterest in activities and hobbies they previously enjoyed
- General discontent both at home and work
- Mood swings or aggression
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Social isolation
- Negative self-talk
- Low self-esteem
As a way to cope, self-medicating becomes an escape. A shot of ‘liquid courage’ or an after-work glass of wine can too easily become a habit. This kind of behaviour can lead to addiction as a means of numbing psychological pain. Substance abuse can provide a temporary release from negative all-prevailing emotions.
Alcohol is a depressant which means that any already existing depression will be compounded. A person suffering from a Depressive Episode where symptoms prevail for two weeks may develop Major Depressive Disorder and this could further lead to Severe Recurrent Depression which is a lifelong chronic illness.
The Endless Cycle
Finally a relationship with a substance becomes a reality as the person becomes more and more isolated from society often losing contact with friends and family. This is another reason why, when entering a rehab or treatment centre, it is vital that family members are also treated in family therapy.
There is another aspect to this which includes getting an addict or alcoholic into rehab. This may require a workplace intervention which can be particularly challenging. However, it makes good business sense to assist and help an employee who after going to rehab, will really understand and appreciate the value of their work.
If dependancy on a substance becomes the driving force behind a person’s motivation, action must be taken. But psychiatric and psychological treatment for depression is even more important to ensure long-term recovery. If you are suffering from Depression or someone that you know is, don’t hesitate to contact us and speak to one of our experienced counsellors.