Types of Depression You May Experience in Early Sobriety

depression in early sobriety

Every human being that is currently living or has ever lived is made up of a different genetic composition than the last. We are all so similar yet unique to every step and breathe. Every being has a journey they’re taken thru as they discover the lessons of their lifetime. Fate is quite the mysterious creature. Yet, even with all the differences at hand, there are core responses, diseases, and reactions to the world that many of us share in common. Addiction is one of those.    

Addiction brings a lot out of people. Sure sobriety is one of the prettier factors, but there are many who have to endure a rough patch of early sobriety to get their recovery down right. Many find themselves battling with newfound feelings of irritability, multiple versions of anxiety, or different types of depression. However, these are not emotional death sentences. There are so many addicts/alcoholics that have overcome the same uncomfortable feelings. Sometimes a little awareness makes all the world a difference.

The Irrationality of Depression  

They say that all emotion stems from one of two places: love or fear. No matter what the person is feeling, it can usually be traced on a psychological level to one of those two deeply rooted emotions. Anger, anxiety, and different types of depression are all surely derived from fear. Sometimes fear is the appropriate response, but way too often we feed the irrational fears lurking upstairs. Irrational fears are fears created out of another existing fear. Much of the time, these are fears that we have created that are not even happening to us. They’re huge “what ifs”.

Much of the time, human beings like to assume as they let their imaginations take full throttle. We are observant animals for the most part, but this tends to get in the way with our character defects such as arrogance, humility, and open-mindedness. We hear and see what we want to hear and see. Then we build off the subject matter in our heads and often times conjure an alternate story in our minds. Then thru our perception of reality, we have concocted a perfect set of fears to poison us from the inside out. We manifest the majority of our problems right between our two ears. Not all, but most.

The Eeyore Daze

They say that happiness comes from within unless you are locked under different types of depression. The hypnosis that mental illness can add to alcoholic thinking is one that should not be wished upon even the worst of enemies. It is a heavy toll that can make it harder to see things clearly in early sobriety. Anxiety and different types of depression will only drown us in negativity. Most of us didn’t get sober just to me miserable in recovery either.

Types of anxiety will feed types of depression and so forth and so on. 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
  • Dysthymia
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Atypical Depression
  • Psychotic Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder related Depression
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Situational Depression

For some of us, we don’t really know how to deal with them. We don’t see the black and white, but only the grey in the center. Most types of depression are widely correlated to stressors or outside variables that are weighing us down. There are those that may need to be medicated to find their balance and then there are those that may not. It all depends on an individualized basis. 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.

Finding Your Tail

The idea behind recognizing the types of depression is so that we can become aware. Aware of when we start feel downbeat about things. Aware of that the voice of addiction is starting to wake up and maybe we don’t like the headspace we’re in. Aware that we can reach out for help because other people are dealing with the same anxieties or types of depression that we are. Giving attention to the emotional discomfort is how the personal development keeps growing.

Addressing the type of depression at hand instead of stuffing it back down is the only way to get past it. Much like alcoholic thinking, depression or any other emotional disorder will not just disappear overnight with an “Abra Cadabra”. It’s going to take action, time, and help others. For some, help from others is the scariest part. Addiction and depression will tell us we don’t need anybody. Recovery will plead the exact opposite. Listening to the healthy side is the only way to triumph over illness.

Swallowing pride and asking for help from somebody that understands will be one of the greatest things we ever do for ourselves. We are not destined to suffer alone in this world. This is not meant to be a “misery loves company” type of way where others should suffer equally, but more so that everything is best when shared. There’s just some level of ease knowing at the end of the day that somebody understands you and the mental blockades you may go through. Having these people to chat with, help out, and relate to will help decrease apprehension faster than the time it took to read this.

Accept That You Must Address Your Feelings

As you can see, 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’re going to begin the journey toward recovery, you need to be prepared for what to expect. Unfortunately you will no longer be able to rely upon drugs or alcohol as a crutch to get you through hardships. These substances, which once numbed you from feeling emotions, will longer be there for you to cope when things get tough. Emotions that were numbed will start to rear their ugly head, and they demand to be dealt with. And they do have to be dealt with. This is why counseling is such an important piece of the recovery process.

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 that you should stay focused on, especially once you’re done with rehab, because this is when the pressures of returning to everyday life can hit the hardest.

Even when you think you’re doing great and life feels okay, you still need to continue 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 over confident of themselves, and they fail to do what they need to do to stay on track because they don’t think they need the help anymore. Unfortunately, this feeling is usually short-lived and eventually comes crashing down. This is when the person becomes most vulnerable to depression and caving into temptations.  

How to Deal with Depression During Early Sobriety

One problem that many recovering addicts face, which can lead to depression, is boredom. The hobby that once took up all of their time and basically their whole life is now missing. It can be difficult to figure out what to do with all of this free time. If you don’t make use of free time, it can lead to a lot of sitting around, which may cause a person to fall into depression. Try to take up some new hobbies. Pick up a book, go for a bike ride, take up a painting class, write some music, or whatever else that might interest you.

However, it’s also important to keep in mind that you should also be learning how to slow down and rest. It’s okay to become comfortable with sitting still and doing nothing every once in a while. It is during these times that you can truly relax your mind and maybe ponder deeply or meditate. Practicing mindful meditation is a great way to train the mind to relax itself in times of stress when a person may be tempted to relapse.

Calling Out Depression

At the end of the day, sometimes certain types of depression have a hard way of separating from you. For some of us, it can lead us right back into the depths of addiction. Most of us will do anything to avoid that. Don’t let depression take you back out. If you or a loved one is struggling with chemical dependency and are ready for help, please call 888-481-1993 or visit www.coastaldetox.com. We are ready to give you any suggestions possible and set you or your loved one on a path that we can all be proud of.

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.