How To Deal With Depression During Early Sobriety
One problem that many recovering individuals face commonly in early sobriety is depression. The reality of coming back to the world after treatment is not always a comforting one. With so much time and energy poured out into recovery, it can be difficult to find purpose.
Sometimes depression may not even come as a result of a lack of purpose; it could be completely chemical. Regardless, what those who are struggling need to know is that it is okay to not be okay.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
In today’s culture, especially when it comes to poor mental health, all anybody ever wants to do is fix things. Sometimes people will dismiss your pain and apathy as something that will “all work out in the end”. What many people fail to understand is that depression is not an illusion to just “get past”. It’s not something individuals can simply “stop feeling”. To believe so is dangerous in all actuality.
Depression is a very real mental health issue; it is as real as any other physical disorder or illness. Those who struggle with depression are monumentally afflicted. Depression is not just being sad; it strips away any and all motivation and makes you feel emotionally and physically drained to the point where all you want to do is sleep.
The one thing most people get wrong about depression is that they believe it to be a circumstantial subconscious decision. However, depression is anything but that. People do not choose to have their motivation, sex drive, or fulfillment stripped from them.
Depression causes significant impairment in one’s normal life. Reasons as to why it may exist could pertain to a combination of biological, psychological, or social factors. Much research has been done to examine where depression stems from, and these common denominators all have the potential to cause the brain to change in function. This includes a massive change in certain neural circuits in the brain.
The sadness that most often is associated with depression can lead to physical or behavioral symptoms. These symptoms include the following:
- Change in sleeping habits
- Change in appetite
- Change in daily behavior
- Decreased energy levels
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Lowered self-esteem
- Thoughts/attempts of suicide
What most don’t realize about depression is that it’s more common than some perceive it to be. 1 in every 4 people suffer from mental illness worldwide. Of this number, 264,000,000 suffer from depression.
The common misconception about this disease is that it is some sort of fleeting emotion or that it is a once in a blue moon kind of feeling; it is much more than that. Depression is an illness and it is as real as any other. Those who suffer from it need to know that they are not alone and have no reason to be ashamed; it is okay to not be okay.
The Eeyore Daze
Everything in a person’s life could be so great and point towards feelings of joy and motivation. But the reality is that depression can send them walking the other way. Mental illness is like a cloudy storm that wrecks everything in its path, regardless of someone’s pre-existing struggles. It is a darkness that masks the light at the end of the tunnel as if this light doesn’t even exist.
Sometimes, to make things worse, anxiety will feed depression and vice versa. Upon recognition of the dual diagnosis battle being waged, it’s vital to understand what type is at hand. Depression is not something to just be lumped into an overall category. There are many types of depression in early sobriety such as:
- Major depression
- Postpartum depression
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Atypical depression
- Psychotic depression
- Bipolar depression
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Situational depression
Some individuals simply do not know how to deal with the effects of depression, and understandably so. Most types of depression have a true correlation to stressors or outside variables. These variables have the ability and tendency to weigh people down.
Many people need to use medications in order to find their balance. But there are those who may not need the help of prescription drugs. It varies depending on the individual and his or her needs and experiences.
Taking a look at some of the patterns such as people, places, and things we occupy ourselves with is often where an answer can be found. Knowing the types of depression out there and their slight differences are the beginning of that answer.
Accept That You Must Address Your Feelings
The early phases of recovery can be somewhat of a roller coaster for many. This article isn’t meant to scare you, but rather to inform and encourage you. If you are going to begin the journey toward recovery, you need to be prepared for what to expect.
When things get tough, it is easy to turn to substances, such as drugs or alcohol. But what happens if you are sober and want to stay committed to this new-found freedom? Emotions that were numbed will start to rear their ugly heads, and they demand to be dealt with; they have to be dealt with. This is why counseling is such an important piece of the recovery process, and it is a perfectly normal and healthy step.
Many recovering addicts think counseling is something they can just leave behind once they’re finished with rehab, but this is not the case. Counseling is an ongoing process. Even the healthiest of individuals seek professional counselors.
When you’ve finished treatment, the reality and hardships of everyday life will sneak up. When this happens, it is okay to keep seeking help. Sometimes in the early phase of recovery, some people enter into what’s called the “pink cloud phase”. They feel incredible and happy now that they are free from addiction, and like nothing can go wrong.
The person who is going through the pink cloud phase is very confident in themselves, as they should be. However, regardless of whether or not someone has become sober, it is imperative to always remember that receiving help is okay.
What Kind of Treatment is Available for Depression?
When it comes to treatment options for depression or any other mental illness, there are many to choose from. Some of those options include the following:
- Inpatient Treatment
- Outpatient Treatment
For those who are suffering from more severe forms of depression and have become a danger to their own well being, inpatient treatment is available. This kind of care gives patients 24/7 access to mental health professionals such as doctors, therapists, and psychiatrists.
Outpatient treatment is probably what most people think of when they imagine a treatment for mental illness. Most often people picture a person laying on a couch with a doctor asking them how they feel. To a degree, this is correct, but there is so much more than that. Outpatient treatment is for those who suffer from milder forms of mental illness.
Those who participate do so for as long as they need to in order to better manage their illness. Common forms of outpatient treatment include individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and family therapy.
There are many different kinds of therapy for mental illness, some of which include the following:
- Individual Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The goal of any sort of therapy is to address a patient’s depression, anxiety, or any other mental/behavioral health disorder and help them manage it. For some, mental illness will always be a part of them regardless of whether or not it is chemical or circumstantial. There is so much trauma that those who have also suffered from addiction probably face. Therapy is a good place for them to receive the validation they never got.
Your Pain is Real; Get Help Today!
At the end of the day, depression is awful; there’s no way around this truth. For some, it can lead right back into the depths of addiction. Professionals have performed many studies to connect the dots between mental illnesses like depression and addiction.
The truth is that these disorders are more common than some people believe them to be. The same studies also suggest that personalized care is imperative to the fulfillment of their recovery. Treatment for this should be the first priority.
It is okay to not be okay, and our goal at Coastal is to meet individuals where they are in their recovery journey, even if it means the individual also deals with some form of depression or another mental illness.
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment process; depression does not separate someone from the norm, or their right to live a life free from the burden of mental illness. If you or a loved one struggle from depression or addiction and would like to learn more, contact us here at Coastal Detox. Allow our team to help you as you work toward sobriety and gain freedom from addiction. Please know that we will walk with you, every step of the way!