According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 21 million American adults, or 9.5 percent of the population ages 18 and older have one or more mood disorders. These disorders include major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder (chronic, mild depression), and bipolar disorder (also called manic depression).5
Alcoholism and other types of drug dependence are frequently connected with these disorders. In fact, dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mood disorders is a somewhat common and serious psychiatric condition that requires professional treatment.
Cycle Of Mood Disorders And Self-Medicating
There is often a cycle of mood disorders and substance abuse. Some believe that the abuse leads to a mood disorder. Others link the disorder as the cause for self-medication with alcohol or drugs. While this is often a “chicken or the egg” argument that often can’t be determined, the main point is that a vicious spiral often starts when those suffering from mood disorders treat their symptoms with substances.
For some suffering from mood disorders, the drug of choice is alcohol. Others will turn to cocaine or other stimulants that act on neurotransmitters in the brain’s pleasure center. In a National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), findings showed that about 20 percent of persons with a mood disorder also had a substance use disorder.
Treating Co-Occurring Disorders
Self-medication of mood disorders with drugs or alcohol is dangerous and often leads to long-term addiction. Treatment typically requires a combination of psychotherapies, antidepressant medication, and cognitive-behavioral interventions to identify harmful patterns of thoughts and behaviors and replace them with more healthy, beneficial ones.
Mental health experts now recognize that having co-occurring disorders can make addiction treatment more complex and can increase an individual’s risk for certain health complications. However, individuals often find that when a mood disorder is effectively treated, the desire to use drugs or alcohol lessens. This is why it’s so important to completely treat both conditions.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a mood disorder and addiction, contact The River Source today. Patients receive a full assessment before being admitted to ensure that they receive a customized treatment plan that addresses both the mood disorder and the substance abuse.
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