It is not uncommon for people who struggle with addiction to also suffer from one or more mental health conditions. At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, we encourage guests to learn as much as possible about any mental health conditions they may face in order to ensure optimal conditions for prolonged recovery.
One mental health condition that frequently occurs alongside substance abuse is depression. Depression, likely many other diagnoses, doesn’t manifest in just one way. There are numerous varieties, and each variety is unique to the individual who experiences it. As such, the tools a person needs to cope with this diagnosis may also vary.
At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, it is our goal to equip any of our guests who suffer from depression with the knowledge and therapies they need to address their condition.
Risk factors for depression
According to the National Institute on Mental Health, anyone can experience depression, including adults, adolescents, and children, though it is most likely to develop in adults. Risk factors include:
- Personal or family history of depression
- Certain physical illnesses and medications (not only can depression make other conditions worse, but sometimes medications taken for physical illnesses contribute to depression)
- Major life changes, trauma, or stress
Types of Depression
Major Depression – this variety tends to be very intense, with symptoms manifesting most of the time, and on most days. A person with major depression would experience 5 or more of the following symptoms for two weeks or longer:
- Loss of interest/pleasure in activities they previously enjoyed
- Weight loss or gain
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Agitation and restlessness
- Feeling sluggish or low on energy
- Feeling worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty with decision-making and focus
- Suicidal thoughts
Persistent Depressive Disorder – this type of depression lasts two years or longer. Sufferers can function day to day but often feel low. This condition is characterized by:
- Changes in appetite
- Too much or too little sleep
- Lack of energy or fatigue
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty with decision making and focus
Bipolar Disorder – also known as Manic Depressive Disorder, this condition is characterized by intense highs and lows. The low phase looks very similar to major depression, whereas Harvard Medical School describes the high phase of bipolar disorder as being typified by:
- Grandiose ideas
- Unrealistically high self-esteem
- Decreased need for sleep
- Thoughts and activity at higher speed
- Ramped-up pursuit of pleasure, including sex sprees, overspending, and risk taking
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – sometimes also called Seasonal Depression, this diagnosis impacts people most during certain times of the year, most generally the winter months.
Psychotic Depression – depression that is accompanied by psychotic symptoms, such as:
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things others cannot see or hear)
- Delusions (believing things which are inaccurate)
- Paranoia (fear that people are trying to cause one harm)
Postpartum Depression – this variation occurs in women, in the weeks and months following the birth of a child.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) – may occur for some women at the start of menstruation. PMDD-related depression often also accompanies:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decrease/increase in appetite
- Altered sleep habits
- Feeling overwhelmed
Situational Depression – this isn’t technically a psychiatric term, but it is something people often experience when going through a divorce, loss of a loved one, unemployment, or other situation which induces sadness.
Atypical Depression – a positive event can temporarily elevate the mood in a person with this type of depression, but they frequently experience:
- Increased appetite
- Increased sleeping
- Heaviness in their limbs
- Oversensitivity to criticism
Common Depression Treatments
There are numerous treatments used to address the various types of depression; more information on most of these is available through the National Institute of Mental Health:
- Talk therapy – may be used to treat major depression, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and situational depression.
- Anti-depressants – medications that may be used to treat major depression, persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, psychotic depression, post-partum depression, atypical depression, and PMDD; not typically recommended for bipolar disorder.
- Mood stabilizers – medications commonly used to treat bipolar disorder.
- Anti-psychotics – medications commonly prescribed to treat psychosis, either with or without depression.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – a type of medication often used to treat atypical depression.
- MAOIs – an older line of antidepressants that have been shown to be especially effective in treating atypical depression.
- Electroconvulsant therapy (ECT) – electric pulses may be used to treat major depression when talk therapy and medication don’t work; they are also sometimes used to treat psychotic depression.
- Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) – magnets may be used therapeutically to treat major depression when talk therapy and medication don’t work.
- Light therapy – may be recommended for people with seasonal affective disorder.
- Oral Contraceptives – sometimes used to treat PMDD.
Nearly all forms of depression can benefit from sobriety, a healthy diet, moderate exercise, adequate sleep, and proper stress management. At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth Virginia, we assist our guests in learning more about their mental health, reaching out for any professional support they may need, and developing a holistic plan for wellness in every aspect of their lives.