Today we are looking at “dealing with depression: strategies for managing depression in addiction recovery”.

Defining Depression?
• Depression is a common and yet serious medical illness that negatively affects how a person feels, thinks, and acts.
• Depression is diagnosed when an individual experiences either a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for at least two weeks, as well as a variety of other symptoms that cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.
• Other symptoms that may be present include changes in appetite or weight, sleep disturbances, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of death or suicide.
• What it’s not is feeling sad or down for a few days. Sadness is a normal human emotion that is typically triggered by a specific event or situation, depression is a complex and persistent mental health condition that involves more than just feeling sad.
Depression and addiction recovery.

If you think you’re depressed and you’re reading this article in the UK then the usual first port of call is your General Practitioner (GP). Your GP can provide a range of support and treatments such as, an initial assessment to determine the severity of the depression, and whether you need to be referred to specialist mental health services. The GP may also recommend physical health checks to rule out any underlying physical health conditions that could be contributing to the depression.

Substance use can:
1. Cause or worsen depression. Alcohol and opioids can directly affect brain chemistry and worsen symptoms of depression.
2. Mask underlying mental health issues and some people may turn to substance use as a way to cope with symptoms of depression or other mental health issues.
3. Make it harder to treat depression by interfering with the effectiveness of depression treatments, such as therapy or medication. It can also increase the risk of side effects or interactions with medications.
4. Increase the risk of suicide, particularly alcohol and drugs, can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours in individuals with depression.

It’s important to note that substance use, and depression often co-occur, and it’s important to address both issues in order to achieve long-term recovery. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression and are also using substances, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional who can evaluate your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Non-medical and non-clinical ways to manage depression.

While these methods are not a substitute for professional treatment, they can be helpful in managing symptoms and improving overall well-being.

Here are some things to consider doing:
1. Exercise regularly:
Exercise has been shown to be an effective way to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, on most days of the week.
2. Get enough sleep:
Sleep is important for both physical and mental health, and lack of sleep can worsen symptoms of depression. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night and try to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
3. Practice relaxation techniques:
Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, can help reduce stress and improve mood.
4. Stay engaged in recovery:
Maintaining a strong commitment to recovery can also be helpful for managing depression. This might involve attending support group meetings, working with a sponsor, practicing mindfulness or meditation, and engaging in other recovery-oriented activities.
5. Make healthy lifestyle choices:
Eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and reducing stress can all help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
6. Recognizing triggers:
Finally, it’s important to recognise the triggers that may contribute to your depression and take steps to manage them. This might involve avoiding certain people or situations, setting boundaries, or developing coping strategies that allow you to navigate difficult situations without becoming overwhelmed.

Remember that depression is a treatable condition, seeking help and being actively involved in managing depression in addiction recovery can improve your overall quality of life and reduce the risk of relapse.