Treating Both Depression and Alcoholism
Many people that struggle with alcoholism also struggle with depression. After all, if you feel depressed, it’s likely that you think you will feel better by drinking. The truth is that alcohol may give you an initial buzz, but over time it will cause you to feel worse mentally and physically. Alcohol is a depressant, so thinking it will be the cure-all for sadness is not true.
Good news is that both depression and alcoholism are treatable. Having two diagnoses, or dual diagnosis, is common. Treatment will consist of treating both disorders individually and together. For example, you may attend an alcohol detox for alcoholism and see a counselor for depression.
What disorder should you treat first?
Mental health professionals advise treating the alcoholism first, as it can be tough to get to the issue of depression while under the influence of alcohol. I’m sure you can relate to drinking and then feeling super sad feelings to arise. It’s the alcohol that can bring out those feelings, but removing the alcohol will help you to become more emotionally balanced. You’ll be able to then start contending with the emotions underlying the depression.
Detox will consist of a period of time ridding your body of the toxins associated with alcohol. The time can range from 3 days up till about a week. The time frame will depend on how long you’ve been drinking and how heavy of a drinker you were.
Regular counseling for depression
Once you stop drinking, it will be beneficial to attend counseling sessions regularly for depression. Oftentimes drinking suppresses emotions, so once you stop you may have to contend with some negative emotions rising to the surface. You may also need some help to contend with them. It’s common for emotions like guilt, anger, sadness, and fear to pop up once you stop drinking.
After detox, it will serve you to continue to treat the alcoholism. Some opt to attend and inpatient or outpatient treatment center. Others choose to attend a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous. Early recovery can pose challenging at times, so getting a support system in place should help you a great deal.
If the depression you are contending with is a more extreme kind of depression, there is medication that can help. Consult with a psychiatrist to learn about your options. Anti-depressant medication has helped many people regain their sense of happiness, oftentimes after they’ve tried other methods that have not helped. Medication is not the cure-all though. You’ll have to do some inner work via counseling too. Additionally, most psychiatrists will want to use medication temporarily while you’re in therapy, as it’s not meant to be a medication that you’re using forever.
Are you struggling with depression and alcoholism? If so, it’s time to consult a healthcare provider or alcohol rehab. Reach out for help today.