Types of Depression and Addiction – As a condition that impacts more than 16 million adults, major depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental illness in the U.S. Those who are “high-functioning” despite their depression appear to live relatively normal lives, yet they secretly struggle with feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and low motivation. Nevertheless, many others are so intensely affected that they can’t get out of bed for days, weeks, or even months, and may engage in self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from depression also choose to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, and this frequently leads to chemical dependence and addiction.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a prevalent and potentially severe mental health disorder that adversely affects how a person feels, thinks, and acts. Depression induces feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable. It can result in a myriad of emotional and physical problems and can impair a person’s capacity to function normally at home, school, work, or in social situations. It is important to note that most people, at one time or another, will experience feelings of sadness. Depression differs from these otherwise normal feelings in that it often lacks any obvious situational cause. Moreover, in cases where depressive symptoms do appear to have a cause, they persist for longer than expected, even after that seemingly obvious cause is addressed and rectified. Depression symptoms vary from mild to severe and may include the following:
- Feeling sad and exhibiting a low mood
- Lack of enjoyment from or interest in hobbies and activities once deemed important
- Changes in appetite, or weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or sleeping too much
- Lack of energy or increased fatigue and lethargy
- Increase in physical activity that has no real purpose (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing)
- Slowed movements and speech, as observed by others
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Re-occurring thoughts of suicide or death
Symptoms must persist for at least two weeks to qualify for a diagnosis of depression.
Types of Depression
Major Depressive Disorder Major depressive disorder is a life-altering condition that affects sufferers daily. Of the many types of depression, this type is the most intense and most debilitating, as well as the most frequently diagnosed.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia) Dysthymia is a mild-to-moderate type of depression that presents as a limited number of depressive symptoms experienced consistently for a period of at least two years. Dysthymia can be somewhat debilitating and has a distinct effect on energy levels, motivation, and emotions.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) This form of depression produces symptoms comparable to major depression, but usually only during the winter months when days are short, sunlight is less accessible, and individuals are forced to spend considerable time indoors.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome that is characterized by disturbing mood swings, and symptoms that may resemble major depression.
Postpartum Depression Occasionally women experience deep depression following childbirth, although some symptoms may begin during pregnancy. Postpartum depression is a potentially serious disorder that can impact a mother’s ability to care for herself and her children and, in severe cases, cause suicidal or homicidal ideations.
High-Functioning Depression Individuals with high-functioning depression can encounter a wide range of symptoms of varying levels of intensity. But, despite this depression, they are still able to maintain employment and personal relationships, handle parenting and household duties, and typically function in a way that appears normal. However, this type of depression can take a heavy emotional toll on sufferers over time, and they are usually unable to maintain this level of functioning indefinitely.
Treatment for Depression and Addiction
Substance abuse and addiction are very common among those who are struggling with a depressive condition. Indeed, an estimated 25% of adults with a mental health condition also suffer from a substance use disorder. When an individual experiences both depression and addiction, this is referred to as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. All types of depression are associated with an increased risk of accidental injury, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. When drug or alcohol abuse occurs in combination with depression, risks to a person’s physical and emotional well-being increase exponentially. Fortunately, both addiction and depression are very treatable conditions when the right approach is employed. By enrolling in a specialized treatment program, clients can avoid the potentially devastating effects of depression and addiction, and ultimately achieve the healthy, satisfying life they deserve. Harmony Recovery Center offers a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment as well as therapeutic care for co-occurring mental illness. We provide evidence-based services vital to the recovery process, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning. If you or someone you love is suffering from a substance use disorder in addition to a mental health condition such as depression, please contact us today. Discover how we help people recover and develop the tools they need to sustain long-term sobriety and wellness!