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Clinical depression is difficult for some people to manage while recovering from substance use disorder (SUD). More severe symptoms may affect quality of life. Often, clients with co-occurring major depression and SUD use prescription medications to reduce depressive symptoms while they work through underlying issues related to their substance misuse and depression. According to Focus, “[O]utcomes tend to be significantly worse among patients diagnosed as having both major depressive disorder and a substance use disorder, compared with patients who have only one of these diagnoses.” West Coast Recovery Centers uses evidence-based and alternative holistic therapies to help clients manage co-occurring depression alongside SUD. 

How Does Co-Occurring Depression Affect Recovery?

People struggling with co-occurring depression may have difficulty managing stress or functioning day-to-day, depending on the severity of their symptoms. For example, some clients in recovery may have trouble even getting out of bed or attending daily therapy sessions. Many clients with co-occurring depression take prescription antidepressants or other medications to ensure symptoms don’t affect treatment.

Co-occurring depression may affect recovery by doing the following: 

  • Increasing the number and severity of SUD symptoms and side effects 
  • Making it more difficult for people in recovery to focus and make essential lifestyle changes
  • Decreasing self-worth and self-confidence 
  • Lowering energy and affecting sleep patterns

Some aspects of depression may have biological causes. Untreated biological issues may make it more difficult for people to heal and increase the risk of relapse. The clinical team uses comprehensive testing and assessments to determine if nutritional deficiencies or other physical factors have contributed to depressive episodes. Sometimes, addressing these issues requires prescription medications, vitamin supplements, or other short-term treatments. Changes to daily routines, eating more nutritious meals, or getting more quality sleep may also reduce depressive symptoms caused by biological factors. 

Common Side Effects of Co-Occurring Depression

Depression looks different for everyone. However, there are some side effects most people experience during early recovery if they have co-occurring major depression, including: 

  • Frequent crying 
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, or dread 
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Abrupt changes in energy levels 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes to appetite causing noticeable weight gain or loss 
  • Self-harming behaviors 
  • Body aches
  • Mood swings 

Most of the symptoms of depression can be treated without a prescription. However, medications reduce symptoms and side effects quicker than talk therapy or other evidence-based methods. People in treatment often have a short period of time to complete their treatment due to insurance limitations or other factors. While depression may take years to fully treat, SUD recovery programs usually only last several months. Prescription medications make it easier for clients to establish physical and psychological stability, allowing them to get the most out of treatment.

Alternative Treatments for Co-Occurring Depression

Depression is very common. Many possible treatments exist, including traditional talk therapy, medication, and alternative holistic therapies. In addition, art-focused therapies have gained popularity recently and have been known to reduce the symptoms of co-occurring SUD and depression. 

Some alternative treatments for co-occurring depression and other mental health disorders include: 

  • One-on-one and group psychotherapy 
  • Psychiatric support 
  • Psychoeducation 
  • Mindfulness and other holistic therapies 

According to the Journal of Addictions Nursing, “Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate the use of [complementary and alternative medicine] CAM has rapidly increased over time, with a recent estimate that 40% of adults use some form of CAM.” Complementary medicine is a growing field because it works. Many people benefit from spending a few hours a week practicing healthy coping skills to manage co-occurring depression.

How Does West Coast Recovery Centers Treat Depression?

The experts at West Coast Recovery Centers treat clinical depression using whatever means are necessary while considering clients’ preferences and desires. Treatment programs use peer engagement and other positive social supports to help clients find alternatives to prescription medication during treatment for SUD and co-occurring depression. The clinician team allows clients to take control of their treatment and direct how they approach managing depressive symptoms. 

Successfully Managing Depressive Symptoms

Everyone feels a little sad sometimes. However, when the feeling grows and reaches a point where it interferes with quality of life, changes are necessary to avoid the risk of relapse. Clients manage their symptoms during early recovery by relying on their care team and support system. 

Successfully managing depressive symptoms during early recovery often requires the following:

  • Psychoeducation and information on the links between thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and beliefs 
  • A conscious decision to make healthier life choices by eating healthier, getting quality sleep each night, and staying hydrated
  • The continued support of clinicians and loved ones 

West Coast Recovery Centers ensures all clients have an opportunity to receive treatment for any co-occurring mental health disorders. The care team collaborates with clients to identify and diagnose co-occurring conditions like depression before providing tailored treatment plans. 

Some people may hesitate to get treatment for SUD and co-occurring major depression. Although the symptoms interfere with everyday life and recovery, individuals in treatment may want to avoid relying on medication to help them move forward in their recovery. Depression is one of the most common side effects of SUD and a common mental health issue. Medication is one way to reduce any disruptive side effects and ensure the client continues to make progress in treatment for SUD. However, West Coast Recovery Centers understand not everyone wants to rely on medication to treat disorders like depression. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (760) 492-6509.

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