By: Bethany Winkel
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How to Manage Depression without Turning to Drugs or Alcohol
Mental health disorders and substance abuse often go hand in hand, but many people don’t realize just how closely related these conditions are.
- According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), about 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder, such as depression, also have a substance abuse disorder, and about 20 percent of those with a substance abuse problem also have an anxiety or mood disorder.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) concludes that compared with the general population, people addicted to drugs are roughly twice as likely to have mood and anxiety disorders, and vice versa.
There are many reasons for the connection between co-occurring disorders. Someone who is sad or depressed will eventually want to find ways to feel better because, over time, chronic depression and other mental health disorders can become very taxing on a person’s mind and body. Sometimes it seems easier for the person to turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their feelings and soothe their mind. Even though the drugs or alcohol might make the person feel better at the moment, eventually they will make things much worse. The person will become dependent on the substance to feel normal or to function at a level that will allow them to get through the day, and then they will have to deal with an addiction as well as mental health disorder.
If you are struggling with depression, turning to substances to self-medicate is not the answer. Instead, find healthy ways to deal with the mental health issue. First of all, consult a doctor or psychiatrist about your feelings and follow their advice and treatment plan. Then, incorporate things like proper nutrition and exercise, stress reduction techniques, positive social interactions, and counseling and doctor-prescribed medications if necessary to manage the depression. Above all, be open about what you are going through and ask for help when you need it.
Learn more about co-occurring disorders here.