The complex relationship between alcoholism and depression

There has always been a complicated relationship between alcoholism and depression, but it can be challenging to figure out how one leads to the other.

Does a person drink because they’re depressed? Or does having depression lead a person to drink? That’s why it’s essential to consider a person’s mental health while they’re receiving treatment for alcohol use disorder.

How alcohol abuse factors into depression

Does alcohol cause depression or does depression lead to alcohol abuse? When receiving alcohol treatment, counselors typically examine individuals to assess the state of their mental health.

Both disorders can exist together, each disorder increases the risk for the other disorder, and each disorder can worsen the other. Regardless of which one came first, however, both issues need to be taken care of throughout the treatment process.

Types of depressive orders

Different kinds of depressive orders can present differently, which can help professionals properly diagnose and treat the underlying disorder.

  • Major depressive disorder: symptoms of depression must last for as long as two weeks to receive a diagnosis, and they must affect a person’s ability to sleep, eat work, and function throughout the day.
  • Perinatal depression: this kind of depression takes place in women during pregnancy or after they’ve given birth.
  • Manic-depressive disorder: this is a bit different from depression, but individuals can experience episodes of low moods that can meet the symptoms of major depressive disorder.
  • Dysthymia: the symptoms of this kind of depression aren’t as severe but they tend to last a lot longer.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: seasonal changes can lead to depressive symptoms, especially when there is a lack of light exposure. This typically happens in the winter.

Do depressed people drink more?

Studies have shown that one-third of people with depression tend to have an alcohol problem. They turn to drinking for some kind of relief from their symptoms. However, the symptoms of depression complicate the problem because they don’t go away on their own. Alcohol can also make some of these symptoms worse and even increase the frequency of depressive episodes over time.

Receiving a dual diagnosis

People who struggle with both depression and alcohol abuse tend to qualify for a dual diagnosis, regardless of which disorder came first. Removing the alcohol from their system and developing good habits is the first step.

Once sober, then they can start getting help for the symptoms of their depression. That’s why it’s a good idea to look for a facility that is capable of providing specialized treatment to deal with both disorders.

It takes a lot of courage to realize that you may both have a drinking problem and are dealing with depression at the same time. It’s important to understand that using alcohol as a coping mechanism is the first sign of an alcohol disorder. If you discover that you have a combination of these disorders, it’s important that you speak to a mental health professional or your personal doctor to draft a plan for success. Starting early will prevent things from becoming a more complicated problem later on in life.