Tag Archives: Depression

How to Tell the Difference Between Depression and Short-Term Sadness

Differences Depression vs short-term sadness

Many people mistakenly assume that “depression” simply means a period of intense sadness. However, there is a distinct difference between clinical depression, a diagnosable medical condition, and short-term sadness. The symptoms of depression vary from person to person, but the reality is that feelings of sadness are only a small part of the effects of this condition.

Understanding True Depression

A person with clinical depression or a depressive disorder generally has trouble managing very basic tasks due to feelings of worthlessness, anxiety about the possibility of failure, and general lethargy. So what is clinical depression exactly? It is a long-term mental health disorder, typically a chronic one that has drastic effects on a person’s physical, mental, social, and emotional health. It can interfere with daily tasks, make work feel impossible, and may limit a person’s opportunities for social interaction. Many people mistakenly attribute periods of sadness as signs of depression.

Symptoms Of Clinical Depression

Differences Depression vs short-term sadness - fightaddictionnowSymptoms of clinical depression can persist for years and increase in severity over time without proper treatment. Some of the most common symptoms reported include:

  • Persistent feelings of intense sadness
  • Poor self-image and low self-esteem
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Difficulty with sleeping
  • Eating problems — over-eating or having very little appetite most days
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Deep feelings of guilt without a tangible reason for those feelings to exist
  • Persistent feelings of worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or wishing for death.
  • Persistent feeling of being a burden to others, or that others would be better off if the depressed person wasn’t around
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed hobbies or activities
  • Social disengagement, cancelling plans, or avoiding social interaction
  • Suicide attempts

Many people experience sadness of everyday life events or traumatic experiences and may suffer with some of these symptoms for a while, but this is not indicative of clinical depression.

Seasonal Depression

Some people suffer from a seasonal depression disorder that causes adverse symptoms at certain times of the year. For example, many people with seasonal depression report that the winter months cause them the most trouble. They may feel daunted at the upcoming stress of holiday parties, family gatherings, gift-giving, or holiday travel. Shorter days also mean less sun exposure, and vitamin D deficiency can easily contribute to seasonal depression symptoms.

Occasional Bouts Of Sadness

Sadness can arise from countless possible situations. The loss of a job, the death of a loved one, an injury, an argument with a spouse, and countless other possibilities may create occasional fits of sadness. This does not mean the person experiencing these feelings has clinical depression. Overcoming typical sadness simply takes time and self-care; the process is different for everyone. A person with actual depression cannot simply distract him or herself away from symptoms and hope they go away over time. Clinical depression occurs from a natural chemical imbalance in the brain that requires medication or intense therapy to manage.

Sadness vs. Depression

The average person has coping mechanisms for dealing with sadness. A person may try to distract him or herself with hobbies, social activity, sex, good food, or a number of other possibilities. For a person with clinical depression, most of these ideas aren’t even an option. It’s common for people with clinical depression to struggle to find the motivation to even complete basic tasks. Making a cup of coffee in the morning can feel like an insurmountable challenge. A person struggling with temporary sadness will still be able to find motivation to carry on with daily life.

This is part of the reason why substance abuse is such a major risk for people with clinical depression. Without appropriate treatment, a person with depression will invariably turn toward self-medication with alcohol or illicit drugs to overcome their negative feelings or simply to be able to function day to day.

Are You Depressed Or Just Sad For Now?

Clinical depression treatments generally involve psychotherapy and medication. Many antidepressant medications carry a significant risk of abuse, however. Additionally, some people may not want to use medication as they believe it simply creates “artificial happiness” and does nothing to address their root issues. However, proper application of antidepressants may help a person overcome the symptoms keeping them from honest self-reflection and may provide enough motivation to make serious changes in his or her outlook on life.

Finding Support And Avoiding Substance Abuse

People suffering from depression often feel as though they cannot voice their concerns to others because it simply makes them feel worse than they already feel. Coming out to friends and family about depression can trigger even greater feelings of failure and worthlessness, but this is a necessary step on the road to recovery. Additionally, talking about the symptoms of clinical depression can help people avoid substance abuse. One of the major driving factors behind addiction is isolation; a person who feels as though he or she has no one to turn to for support will cope however he or she can, most often involving drug use.

Join The Conversation And Find The Support You Need

Fight Addiction Now is a community of people who have experienced substance abuse firsthand. Many of our members have dealt with mental illnesses like depression and know how these conditions influence addiction treatment. Our community includes substance abuse treatment professionals and researchers, survivors, and the friends and family members who have seen addiction firsthand.

Reaching out for help is an incredibly difficult but crucial step in finding relief. Take our online quiz to see if you have any of the symptoms of clinical depression and think of ways you could contribute to the discussions in the Fight Addiction Now community.

What Is the Difference Between Depression and Bipolar Disorder?

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What Is the Difference Between Depression and Bipolar Disorder?

A common question you might hear, especially if you’re in the behavioral health field, is, “What is the difference between bipolar disorder and depression?”

Well, it depends on which depressive disorder you are talking about, as there are actually several psychiatric disorders that fall under the umbrella of “depression”; bipolar disorder happens to be one of them.

We will get to all of the depressive disorders later, but let us get back to the question at hand. Really, there are a couple of different ways you can answer this frequently asked question.

The Obvious, Snarky Answer

The person answering the question could choose to retort something like, “Bipolar disorder is a type of depression,” or, “Bipolar disorder IS depression, but not all depression is bipolar disorder.”

Those would kind of be the easy, cop-out answers, but it’s worth explaining the unique characteristics of bipolar disorder, even among its fellow depressive disorders and mood disorders.

Comparing Major Depression to Bipolar Disorder

What the person asking the question probably has in mind is major depressive disorder (MDD), also known as clinical depression. Now that we have a specific type of depression to compare bipolar disorder to, we can delve into all of the similarities and differences.

The difference between someone with bipolar disorder and someone with major depression is that while they will both experience the symptoms of depression, the former will go through periods of mania and fluctuate between these lows and highs.

What Are the Symptoms of Major Depression?

Someone could be diagnosed with major depressive disorder if they experience at least two straight weeks of general symptoms such as:

  • Hopelessness
  • Sadness
  • Grief
  • Frustration or anger
What Does Depression Feel Like?
Other symptoms commonly associated with depression include:

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Indecisiveness
  • Fatigue or drained of energy
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • Significant weight gain or loss
  • Overeating or lack of appetite
  • Frequent crying episodes
  • Short temper
  • Voluntary isolation
  • General indifference
  • Low or no self-worth

Which Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder Are Unique?

Bipolar disorder sufferers will go through depressed periods where they experience any number of the symptoms above, but then their mood will swing to the opposite end of the spectrum: mania. There’s a reason bipolar disorder used to be known as manic depression, even though the term seems to be an oxymoron. It’s because a bipolar sufferer will fluctuate between the two “modes,” if you will.

Some of the symptoms that may arise during periods of mania include:

Symptoms of Mania
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Anger and irritability
  • Rapid talking, racing thoughts
  • Restlessness
  • Easily distracted
  • Irrational behavior (due to altered judgment)
  • Delusions about one’s capabilities
  • Excessive behavior (shopping, gambling, sex, drinking, etc.)
  • Either over-the-top optimism or extreme pessimism
  • Hallucinations
As you’ve probably gleaned, mania represents the “high” feelings in a bipolar sufferer, while depression represents the “low.”

How Often Do Bipolar Sufferers Switch Between Mania and Depression?

This is a logical question that many people have when inquiring about bipolar disorder. They wonder if bipolar sufferers will toggle between mania and depression hourly, daily, etc.

The not-so-satisfying answer is that it depends on the person. Bipolar disorder doesn’t affect all of its victims the same. On average, bipolar sufferers will cycle between the two moods once or twice a year. So, that’s probably not as frequent as you would think. In fact, someone who goes through four or more cycles within 12 months is known as rapid cycling.

The manic episodes tend to occur in the spring or the fall among bipolar sufferers. Certain stimuli can accelerate their change from one mode to the other, such as the type of medication they’re taking, drug or alcohol use, or the loss of a loved one.

There are also periods where these individuals might go through mixed episodes. These periods feature a mixture of the aforementioned depression and mania symptoms, and they typically happen as the person is in the middle of switching from one mood to the other.

The Other Depressive Disorders

Depending on the publication, you may see a dozen or more different types of depression disorders listed. However, let’s take a quick look at the most prominent six (other than bipolar disorder):

  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder: a persistent angry or irritable mood in children, punctuated by temper tantrums and outbursts
  • Dysthymia (aka Persistent Depressive Disorder): similar to Major Depressive Disorder, but with less-severe symptoms
  • Perinatal Depression: depression symptoms that occur during pregnancy and after birth (combining previously recognized disorders known as Prenatal Depression and Postpartum Depression)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): symptoms occur during the seven days before menstruation and disappear within a few days after the start of the woman’s period
  • Psychotic Depression: similar to Major Depression, but featuring manifestations of psychosis, such as hallucinations, delusions and hearing voices
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): depression symptoms during a specific season of the year (usually winter)

Variations of Bipolar Disorder

Just as there isn’t only one type of depressive disorder, bipolar disorder actually encompasses a few different diagnoses of its own. The two levels of bipolar disorder and the most obvious parallel are:

  • Bipolar I Disorder: Doctors can diagnose this level of bipolar disorder when a patient has had at least one extended manic episode, even if he or she has yet to experience a depressive episode.
  • Bipolar II Disorder: A diagnosis when a patient has had at least one depressive episode and a period of an elevated mood known as “hypomania,” which is not as extreme as full-blown mania, nor does it last as long. Bipolar II patients typically experience longer depressive episodes and shorter periods of hypomania.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: A mild mood disorder compared to the others, cyclothymia most closely resembles bipolar disorder, but is the less-severe cousin. Cyclothymia is characterized by mood swings from mild depression to hypomania. The symptoms are less intense than in bipolar disorder.

Do Bipolar Disorder and Major Depression Sufferers Take the Same Kinds of Medication?

Since bipolar disorder is quite similar to major depression, you might wonder if sufferers of each take the same kinds of medication. While some doctors may focus on treating the depression symptoms in bipolar disorder, and thus give the patient an antidepressant, the fact is the medication typically is not the same between the two disorders.

Major depression suffers typically take antidepressants from the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) families. Examples include brand names such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Cymbalta, Pristiq and Effexor.

Meanwhile, bipolar disorder sufferers typically take mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants and/or antipsychotics. Examples of mood-stabilizing drugs (with common brand names in parentheses) include:

  • Carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Epitol and Equetro)
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • Valproic acid (Depakene)
  • Lithium
  • Divalproex sodium (Depakote)

The first three on this list fall under the anticonvulsant classification.

A few drugs that have been FDA-approved specifically for bipolar disorder are:

  • Fluoxetine combined with olanzapine (Symbyax)
  • Lurasidone (Latuda) – can be taken alone or with lithium or valproic acid
  • Quetiapine fumarate (Seroquel)

Where to Turn for Dual Diagnosis Help?

Many sufferers of major depression and bipolar disorder fall victim to drug or alcohol abuse. This is known as a dual diagnosis. Thankfully, many treatment centers around the country are committed to treating mental health disorders alongside substance abuse issues.

If you or someone you love could use help in finding the right treatment program for addiction along with any form of depression, Fight Addiction Now can help refine your search in real time. Get in touch with us today by starting a new chat (click on “Start Chat Now”), by sending us a message through our contact page or picking up the phone and calling: 1-844-313-4448.

Take Quiz: Am I Depressed?

Insomnia and Alcohol: How Sleep Disorders are worsened by Drinking

Insomnia and Alcohol: How Sleep Disorders are worsened by Drinking

It’s common for people to abuse alcohol as a way to help themselves go to sleep. After a night of drinking, it might feel like as soon as your head hits the pillow, you’re sound asleep.

However, if you think that just because you are unconscious you’re getting a good night’s rest, you’re sorely mistaken.

How Alcohol Affects Your Sleep

Drinking alcohol before bed has been shown to create serious problems with almost every aspect of sleep quality. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that alcohol hurts your ability to wake up feeling refreshed and well rested.

Alcohol Interferes with Your Circadian Rhythm

While it’s true that after a night of bar-hopping, you will fall asleep fairly quickly, you are way more likely to wake up at some point in the night.

One of the reasons why drinkers wake up in the middle of the night is due to alcohol’s effect on your circadian rhythm. After drinking, your body increases its production of the sleep-inducing chemical adenosine.

When adenosine levels are high enough, you can pass out at the drop of a hat. However, once you stop drinking, adenosine levels plummet so low that you’ll wake up well before your brain and body are ready.

Alcohol Blocks REM Sleep

Drinking alcohol before bed also impairs your brain’s ability to enter into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The REM stage of sleep is widely considered to be the most important stage of sleep. If you don’t enter the REM stage, it won’t matter if you get a full eight hours of sleep: You’ll still wake up feeling unfocused and groggy.

Alcohol Leads to Late-Night Bathroom Trips

Alcohol acts as a strong diuretic, which means more trips to the bathroom. If you drink alcohol too close to your bedtime, you’ll likely wake up in the middle of the night with a full bladder.

Interrupting your sleep to go to the bathroom throws the natural sleep cycle out of whack. And good luck falling back asleep once your hangover sets in.

The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Sleep

Chronic alcohol use can negatively affect your sleep even after getting sober. After you make the decision to give up booze, your body is likely to go into a state of withdrawal. Because withdrawal produces a number of unpleasant side effects, many recovering alcoholics experience insomnia from alcohol withdrawal.

When an alcoholic goes into withdrawal, he or she experiences a number of changes in quality of sleep, including:

  • Frequently interrupted sleep
  • Difficulty falling and staying asleep
  • Sleeping for longer than normally required
  • Entering into REM sleep more frequently, but for shorter durations

It may take a year or longer for recovering alcoholics to re-establish healthy sleeping patterns. This is because years of alcohol abuse have resulted in serious changes in brain structure.

Alcohol, Sleep Problems and Relapse

Withdrawing from alcohol and insomnia go hand in hand. A common cause of alcohol relapse is an inability to manage the sleep issues associated with one’s newfound sobriety. Too many alcoholics think that they need to drink in order to fall asleep. When they try to get sober and start dealing with issues like insomnia, they use that to justify drinking alcohol as a sleep aid.

Obviously, this logic is ridiculous. In all likelihood, they weren’t actually sleeping well when they drank, it just appeared that way. Drinking alcohol while in withdrawal will quickly make the unpleasant symptoms of alcohol detox go away, so of course they’ll have an easier time falling asleep. This relief is only temporary, however. They will quickly run into the same problems with sleep that they had before.

The reason many alcoholics claim to drink just to sleep better is simple: They’re in denial. After all, telling your friends and family that you get buzzed every night because it helps you sleep sounds a lot better than telling them it’s because you have a serious chemical dependency.

Once you accept the fact your alcoholism is about much more than just helping you sleep, you can then start addressing the true sources of your drinking problem.

The Link Between Alcohol and Sleep Apnea

Although it’s estimated that roughly 20 percent of Americans suffer from at least one form of sleep apnea, only 10 percent have received a formal diagnosis. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by a person’s airway becoming blocked to such an extent that he or she cannot breathe normally. If the airway remains blocked for too long, the individual will wake up, at least momentarily, to correct the problem.

Research has shown that sleep apnea caused by alcohol consumption is incredibly common in moderate and heavy drinkers. One study found that men who regularly consumed more than one alcoholic drink per day were more likely to display the signs of sleep apnea than men who don’t drink at all. Each additional daily drink raised the odds of showing signs of sleep apnea by 25 percent.

Sleep Apnea from Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is especially dangerous because a person can experience sleep apnea while being too intoxicated to wake up in time to correct their breathing. In extreme cases, alcohol-induced sleep apnea can cause a person’s blood oxygen levels to drop drastically, a condition known as oxygen desaturation. It can also increase the levels of carbon monoxide in the body to potentially fatal levels.

Whether drinking causes a person to develop sleep apnea or makes one’s existing sleep apnea worse, it’s important to realize that alcohol’s effect on sleep is potentially deadly.

Quit Drinking and Sleep Better!

What’s your take on alcohol and sleep health? Is alcohol really helping your insomnia if you have to drink every night just to fall asleep?
Do you think that those using alcohol as a sleep aid are in denial about their addiction, or do you think that, for some people, drinking every night is the right choice?

Join the conversation now by answering these questions in the comment section below or by clicking over to our forum to let us know what you think!

See Our Alcohol Addiction Fact Sheet

Meditation over Medication: How Meditation can Help Addiction, Self-Medication, and the Need for Prescription Drugs

Meditation over Medication: How Meditation can Help Addiction, Self-Medication, and the Need for Prescription Drugs

From the beginning of time, humans have dealt with physical and mental ailments. It’s part of being human. The body, the mind and the spirit inevitably break down. But there are things we can do to take care of ourselves and minimize the damage. One impactful way we can take care of ourselves is through meditation.

If you think about it, for centuries humanity did not use synthetic medications. Humans and animals have not even always had access to plants and herbs for medicinal use. Meditation, on the other hand, has likely been around since the dawn of civilization.

Can we really fix things with medication?

Certainly, there are some conditions to make us grateful for the advances in modern medicine. But we are not talking about flushing your beta blockers down the toilet; we are talking about managing your life without potent meds when other options are available – options that may even lead to a better result.

Managing addiction recovery without having to resort to any type of drugs, including prescriptions, is a worthy cause. Who likes antidepressants and the side effects, anyway?

What Is Meditation and Mindfulness?

We know all ailments are not solved with drugs, and in recovery, we are trying to avoid taking any drugs again. We have found a better way of life without substances, and many of us seek to extend that better way of avoiding prescription medications that may or may not work.

In an effort to achieve a healthier body, mind, and spirit, people around the world have adopted the Eastern practice of meditation and mindfulness.

A relatively new concept for Westerners, meditation refers to looking inward to improve ourselves. It is about changing our world through changing ourselves.

Mindfulness is the embodiment of reflection and contemplation. Clearing the mind of ruminations and focusing on the five senses is grounding. It shows us what is real – the feel of the earth beneath our feet, the smell of the open air, the view of a tree, the taste of a sweet piece of candy, the sound of relaxing music, etc.

What is not real is living in our heads. Overthinking, letting our thoughts race, is not reality. It’s an imagined world inside, and most of the accompanying worries will never come to pass.

Mindfulness Treatment via Daily Meditations for Recovering Addicts

In the still, quiet moments does a man (or woman) come to know their own heart. It is about self-discovery and rediscovery. Continually knowing ourselves keeps us grounded in our core issues, which keeps us healthy in recovery.

Being mindful means letting unhelpful thoughts flow in and right out, allowing ourselves to be conscious of our thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad…but as merely thoughts and feelings.

Mindfulness as a form of therapy has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of many conditions. Here are a few diagnoses that mindfulness improves:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Eating disorders
  • Other mental health conditions

Mindfulness for Mental Health

Besides the cost and side effects, many people don’t want to go on antidepressants. Psych patients are notoriously uncompliant with taking their meds for various reasons, chief among them being the side effects.

Meditation teaches us to feel, think and be OK with it. As ironic as surrendering to a higher power is empowering, permitting ourselves negative thoughts and feelings – without judgment – allows us to face and release them.

Meditation for ADHD

Research suggests mindful meditation can help ease the symptoms of ADHD. The ability to focus one’s attention and concentrate are two advantages that come from mindfulness training. A lack of focus and concentration are chief complaints in ADHD patients, so it follows that meditation can be beneficial to those with an ADHD diagnosis.

Self-regulation is a typical problem for people with ADHD. Mindfulness improves that too.

Meditation for Anxiety

Anxiety disorder culled is stress and worry. The natural response to anxious thoughts and feelings is avoidance. It’s uncomfortable. We don’t want to feel it. And ultimately, not feeling got us into a hot mess.

Researchers have evaluated the effects of mindfulness meditation for patients’ biological reactions to stress. Blood tests and studies show definitive results that mindfulness training reduces stress hormones, which effect anxiety.

Mindfulness for Spirituality

“A higher power of our own understanding” is a fluid and flexible concept that can be as definitive as the God of the Bible and as abstract as a force of nature. A higher power can be as simple as a 12-step group itself. God, spirituality, a higher power, religion or anti-religion, mindful meditation fits into each person’s lifestyle.

Some people who have traditional values are afraid this alternative philosophy will be at odds with their religious beliefs, but it’s simply not true. Meditation complements any concept of spirituality, not just Buddhism. Meditation opens your spirit to receive exactly what you need in that moment, regardless of what beliefs you may possess.

Meditation for Physical Ailments

Did you know that there are serious meditation gurus that have perfected the art of meditation so completely they are able to control autonomic nervous system functions like heartbeat and digestion?

We know that people living with high levels of stress are more apt to getting infections, colds and flu, and more illnesses in general. Reducing stress via meditation, therefore, improves general physical health. Add to that the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system that deep-belly breathing produces, and it’s not hard to see how pain reduction can happen by meditating.

Inflammation

A 2013 study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health indicated that eight weeks of mindfulness training can reduce stress-induced inflammation better than a health program that includes physical activity, diet education, and music therapy! That’s quite the testament to the healing power of mindfulness.

Make note that inflammation is the culprit for many problems in the body:

  • Arthritis
  • Idiopathic pain
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Injuries
  • Infections
  • Transplant rejection

Chronic Pain

Regular mindfulness practice decreases pain. It reduces stress hormones, inflammatory markers and the patient’s perception of pain more than narcotics.

Addiction Issues Treated Without Medication

It takes a great deal of strength to stare down addiction and live to tell the tale. Death follows so many that have struggled with addiction. Many of us who are in recovery have known people that did not – and those that have not yet – found the strength to slay the beast of addiction. Any help along the way is valuable, including mindfulness.

In addition to scientific evidence supporting the benefits of mindfulness for clinical diagnoses, some other aspects of life that meditation improves include:

  • Spirituality
  • Focus and attention span
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Smoking cessation
  • Empathetic abilities
  • Quality of life
  • Stress reduction
  • Mood stability
  • Self-esteem
  • Fatigue
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Inflammation

Summoning the power to live in recovery begs a new skill set, one that includes serenity, courage and wisdom. Developing and exercising this new skill set keeps us healthy and focused on recovery.

If we are to stay clean and avoid relapse, our recovery has to be – and stay – the No. 1 priority in our lives.

Otherwise, no other priorities will matter. Our lives will become ugly and unmanageable again.

Meditation for addiction helps us practice the tenets of the serenity prayer that we need to stay sober. While some people have a spiritual awakening within a particular religion or church, many are finding another way. Non-traditional forms of spirituality are appealing, as they can transcend a specific faith.

Meditation vs. Medication

Peace and understanding come from meditation. This beneficial habit is now evident in brain scans, advances in the understanding of neuroplasticity, blood work and physiological results. Science and spirituality have aligned at last.

Whether we need meditation for depression, addiction recovery or something else, it is a more favorable option than medication. Even if we decide to use medication too, mindful meditation done right is life changing.

Let’s give ourselves permission to just be. To live in the present moment. And to experience the profound healing power of meditation.

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The Links Between Alcohol, Anxiety, Depression, And Antidepressants

This entry was posted in Mental Health and tagged , , on by .
Alcohol, Depression and Antidepressants

Many people who struggle with substance abuse disorders also experience mental health issues. Some people may have a natural imbalance while others develop these issues over time. In either situation, alcohol or other illicit drugs will not help. Some people fall into the trap of self-medicating with a drug of choice to allay the symptoms of anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue, but the reality is that treating these problems with alcohol or other substances only makes the problem worse.

Dangers Of Self-Medication

Self-medication is an unfortunately widespread practice. One of the most common examples of self-medication is high-functioning alcoholism. This term describes an individual who manages to keep a relatively normal life while nourishing an alcohol problem. For example, a person in a high-stress job may unwind with a drink every day after work. Over time, one drink can become two drinks or more until the person has a full-blown alcohol addiction. Alcohol was once a coping mechanism and is now a very serious threat to the individual’s health and well-being. If the person used alcohol to cope with stress, an advanced alcohol problem will only make work more challenging.

The Alcohol-Anxiety Cycle

Alcohol and anxiety have a very complex relationship. Although the immediate effects of alcohol can include relaxation, a release of inhibitions, and greater social inclination, these effects aren’t a viable treatment for an anxiety disorder. Alcohol worsens anxiety in many ways. For example, the stress of waking up hungover coupled with anxiety can make the next day after a binge drinking episode even more unbearable than usual. The person may feel more anxious than usual about the day ahead due to feeling awful from drinking too much the previous night.

Over time, an anxiety disorder will entail more significant symptoms in the presence of an advanced substance abuse problem. A person addicted to heroin may feel extraordinary anxiety when his or her stash runs dry, or before procuring another dose. This type of symbiotic condition or an alcohol-anxiety cycle is very difficult to break without a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the substance abuse and the mental health disorder at the same time.

The Alcohol-Depression Cycle

Many wonders, “Does alcohol cause depression?” People who suffer from alcoholism report the highest rates of depression among people with substance abuse disorders. Researchers estimate anywhere from 30% to 50% of alcoholics experience depression symptoms and about one-third of people with depression abuse alcohol. While alcohol abuse cannot directly cause depression, it certainly exacerbates the symptoms of depression and makes an alcoholic more likely to slip into depressive episodes. When people refer to the depression caused by alcohol use, they are typically referring to the development of depressive symptoms over time from prolonged alcohol abuse.

Alcohol and depression have a dangerous relationship. While alcohol can create many pleasurable feelings, it is ultimately a depressant on the central nervous system. Even small amounts of alcohol can cause problems for a person with naturally occurring depression. Alcohol lowers serotonin levels in the brain and cuts off the effects of certain stress hormones, causing a person who feels depressed to slip into an even deeper depression. Alcohol will also interfere with metabolic processes and sleeping patterns, further worsening the person’s condition.

Resurgence And Withdrawal

Anxiety and depression also pose serious risks during the detox and withdrawal phases. Essentially, these conditions make the early stages of substance abuse recovery much more uncomfortable and difficult. It’s common for people who struggle with anxiety to experience serious anxiety-related symptoms after quitting alcohol, and panic attacks are common in these situations. A panic attack during the initial stages of alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous, when heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure are already serious concerns.

“Resurgence” is the word that describes a sudden reappearance of symptoms. When a person self-medicates with alcohol for a specific mental health issue, the person will likely experience an intense resurgence of the symptoms of that issue after alcohol withdrawal manifests. These mental health problems can also pose additional difficulties in life when combined with alcohol. Depression or anxiety the day after a drinking binge is very common, and this discomfort may encourage an individual to simply drink more to push those negative feelings away.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

People who suffer from a mental health issue that runs in tandem with a substance abuse disorder are dual diagnosis cases, and this is incredibly common in the substance abuse treatment world. These individuals often wind up in substance abuse treatment after seeking therapy for their mental health concerns rather than the other way around. Social stigmas make it easier for many people to admit to a mental health issue before admitting to a substance abuse problem.

Dual diagnosis treatment requires a very robust treatment plan that addresses the substance abuse and the mental health issue simultaneously. It is virtually impossible to break out of an addictive cycle when both factors are involved without addressing both at the same time. During dual diagnosis treatment, caregivers will carefully assess a patient’s mental health records and his or her substance abuse disorder to develop a treatment plan that covers both issues.

Are Antidepressants Viable?

Antidepressants in substance abuse recovery are a touchy subject. Some believe that antidepressants can lead to replacing one addiction for another, while others believe that antidepressants play an important role in dual diagnosis treatment. The determining factor is whether the patient’s mental health issue is a naturally occurring one or the result of substance abuse.

When a person struggles with a mental health issue, the right antidepressant in the correct dosage can be enormously helpful. These medications help to correct chemical imbalances in the brain. While this is helpful for people with preexisting mental health disorders, people who develop mental health issues because of their substance abuse patterns benefit more from behavioral therapy and developing healthier life habits.

Developing New Habits

A comprehensive dual diagnosis care regimen should include mental health counseling, substance abuse therapy, and medical intervention when necessary. These fundamental elements of treatment will help a person struggling with a dual diagnosis issue form a healthy foundation for recovery. If the individual has a preexisting mental health disorder, antidepressant medication may play a role in his or her recovery plan. Others will benefit greatly from learning new ways to control urges and prevent relapses. Ultimately, alcoholism and substance abuse have strong links to mental health disorders including anxiety and depression, and it is crucial for people to avoid falling into the self-medication trap.

If you’re thinking about asking a doctor about an antidepressant prescription, try abstaining from drugs or alcohol for a few months first. Quitting or limiting your alcohol intake could be all it takes to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression you experience. If quitting is too difficult, or other symptoms appear when you attempt to abstain, this is likely an indication that your mental health issues are the direct results of a substance abuse problem. Antidepressants only work for the people who have preexisting chemical imbalances, as these drugs correct those imbalances. For another person struggling with anxiety or depression due to alcoholism or another form of substance abuse, antidepressants may cause more harm than good.

Read More About Co-Occurring Disorders

When Are We Going to Address the State of Mental Health Care in America?

When Will We Address State of Mental Health Care in America - Fight Addiction Now

There is a mental health crisis in the United States, and very little is being done to fix it. Health care professionals have known about the problem for years, but it seems that it takes a national tragedy for the media to pay any attention.

According to a Mental Health America recent report, more than 43 million American adults suffer from a mental health disorder, and all signs indicate that this number will continue to grow. To make matters worse, more than half of Americans with mental health disorders have not received treatment in the past year.

Mental health care in this country is a joke. Unless we address the problem at its source, Americans will continue to suffer for generations to come.

The Role Social Media Plays in Mental Health Care

Over the past decade, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter have become fixtures of American life. While social media was first presented as a tool for bringing people together, it has become clear that it’s actually driving us farther apart.

Social media allows people to feel connected to one another without any of the risks that come with true intimacy. We can wish someone happy birthday, compliment their new haircut and laugh at their jokes all without ever gathering face to face. We become observers of our friend’s lives, not participants.

On social media, we can control the version of ourselves that we present to others. Only the best moments and most flattering pictures make it to the screen. When we interact with people in the real world, however, this facade can come crashing down. People are increasingly unwilling to take that risk.

Numerous studies have shown that there is strong evidence connecting social media use to substance abuse and mental health problems like depression, anxiety and eating disorders. The U.K.-based Royal Society for Public Health found that photo-sharing platforms like Instagram are creating a generation of young people with serious body image issues, which over time can contribute to a host of other mental health disorders.

Because social media encourages people to share an airbrushed version of their lives, it’s very easy to slip into the false belief that you are alone in your suffering, that in order to fit in, you’ll need to hide your pain from the world. When we repress our emotions in this way for too long, the inevitable result is loneliness, isolation and depression.

The Shocking Lack of Mental Health Care in America

The aforementioned Mental Health America report also said that 56.5 percent of adults suffering from mental illness have not received medical treatment in the past year. And of those who did seek medical care, 20 percent still complain of unmet treatment needs.

If we want to see any improvement in the American mental health crisis, a top priority needs to be providing health insurance for mental illness sufferers. In 2014, nearly 1 out of 5 adults with mental illness did not have health insurance. The situation was even worse in states that did not expand Medicaid services following the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

The scope of this problem varies from state to state. For example, in Massachusetts, only 2.7 percent of adults suffering from mental illness are uninsured, while in Nevada, the number is as high as 28.2 percent.

Unfortunately, having health coverage doesn’t guarantee prompt mental health treatment. As a culture, we need get better at recognizing mental illness in its early stages. There is a gap in time between the first appearance of mental illness symptoms and receiving treatment.

On average, during 84 percent of this gap in time, mental illnesses remain undiagnosed. To put it another way, if someone begins to suffer from depression and receives treatment for it two years later, it is likely that for about the first 20 months, the depression went completely undiagnosed.

The Connection Between Substance Abuse and Co-occurring Disorders

People who suffer from mental illness are at a much greater risk of developing a substance use disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration performed a survey in 2014 that found 7.9 million people who were experiencing mental illness also suffered from a dual diagnosis of substance abuse.

There’s a real problem in this country of just treating the symptoms of mental health problems rather than addressing the problem’s source. If alcoholics seek help for their substance abuse without also receiving treatment for underlying psychological issues like depression, schizophrenia or anxiety, they are much less likely to succeed long term.

The only hope we have for overcoming the mental health crisis in America is through a holistic approach to treatment, and right now that is barely happening.

 

We Owe It to Our Children to Find Mental Health Care Solutions

Young people are hit hardest by the lack of sufficient mental health care in the United States. It’s estimated that 88 percent of young people with major depression receive inadequate treatment, with 64 percent receiving no treatment at all.

Untreated mental illness in young Americans can quickly spiral out of control, as mental illness can lead to substance use disorder and various medical illnesses. In fact, a recent finding seems to indicate that people with depression have a life expectancy of five to 10 years shorter than the national average.

American youths deserve improved health care reform and mental health services. It’s not just a matter of making sure that young people are provided with adequate health insurance: We need to make sure that the mental health services they receive are specifically geared to their unique needs.

Taking care of mental illness in its early stages is the only way to stop the destructive cycle from continuing into the future.

What’s Your Take?

What’s your take on the American mental health care system? What changes would you make if you had the power? Have you personally struggled to find mental health care when you needed it most? Leave a comment below or come over to the Fight Addiction Now forum to discuss this important issue!

See Our Co-Occurring Disorders Fact Sheet

Alcohol Withdrawal Timelines: PAWS & Protracted Withdrawal Lengths Are Unique to Individuals

What Is the Average Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline - Fight Addiction Now

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs, Symptoms and Warnings

Alcohol withdrawal occurs when a body’s natural detoxification process eliminates alcohol from the system. If a person is an extremely heavy drinker, as soon as his or her body begins to sense a lack of alcohol, physical symptoms will begin.

Acute alcohol withdrawal is the first stage in the detoxification process and involves mostly physical symptoms. Common signs and symptoms of acute alcohol detox include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irritability, anxiety, restlessness and confusion
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Seizures
  • Fever and sweating

It is important to note that alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and produce severe symptoms. When going through alcohol withdrawal, it is best to be under some sort of professional addiction recovery support, because it is impossible to tell how severe withdrawal symptoms might become.

When a person’s symptoms become severe, withdrawal is referred to as delirium tremens and can cause:

  • Altered mental functions, disorientation
  • Deep sleep
  • Extreme fear or excitement
  • Sudden mood changes

These types of symptoms are much more dangerous than the effects listed previously. If a person goes through withdrawal too quickly, it can be extremely detrimental, which is why it is advisable to be under the care of a licensed physician or rehabilitation facility.

How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last?

The alcohol withdrawal timeline varies from five days to many months. The acute phase typically lasts five to seven days. Once those symptoms have run their course, different symptoms can appear at any time. The range is dependent on many different factors, including length and amount of alcohol use, medical history and addiction history.

The Physiological Aspects of Withdrawal

Excessive alcohol use interferes with brain function by disrupting neurotransmitters. One neurotransmitter in particular, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), helps produce endorphins. When you drink alcohol in excess, it causes a GABA imbalance.

Dopamine, the “feel good” chemical, stops its production when a heavy drinker suddenly stops drinking. These imbalances cause physiological differences in your system, which in turn give you unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol withdrawal can also induce anhedonia, a term for the brain’s lack of production of feel-good chemicals. Once the brain has stopped producing these chemicals, it takes a while for production to begin again. The brain works to fix the imbalance, but in the meantime, anhedonia will cause a severe lack of interest in most aspects of the person’s life. This can cause deeper depression and emotional issues.

In many instances, withdrawal symptoms only last five to seven days. Other times, people experience alcohol withdrawal months after they stop drinking. These long-lasting withdrawal syndromes are known as protracted or post-acute withdrawal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline for Protracted/Post-Acute Withdrawal

Once the initial effects of acute withdrawal wear off, a person may experience post-acute or protracted withdrawal symptoms, typically two months or more after alcohol cessation. Other names for this withdrawal stage include chronic withdrawal, extended withdrawal, late withdrawal and long-term withdrawal. PAWS is a common acronym for post-acute withdrawal syndrome.
 
In contrast to acute withdrawal’s physical symptoms, these symptoms involve mood-altering episodes such as:

  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Emotional overreactions (crying, laughing, anger)
  • Generalized anxiety, panic disorders
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Alcohol cravings

Depression is common during the post-acute withdrawal period and many times causes a person to relapse. Symptoms in this stage can last several weeks or months. Without help from a therapist, group support or ongoing rehabilitation, this period can be exceptionally difficult to manage successfully.

How to Actively Manage Protracted/Post-Acute Syndrome

Unconditional support is needed from others during the first few months of recovery. It is important to find guidance from group therapies, rehabilitation facilities and individual therapy and counseling.
 
Many people struggle during this stage of the process, and understandably so. A heavy drinker has typically become accustomed to feeling numb and not having to deal with his or her feelings. Once the person is clean, the feelings come flooding back. These feelings, coupled with the lack of feel-good chemicals being produced in the brain, are a dangerous combination.
 
Recovery is difficult, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The first few months of recovery are the most challenging and will need to be actively managed. With help from friends, family and professionals, your recovery can be a success. If you feel depressed, listless, suicidal or hopeless, seek the help of a licensed professional.

Discuss Alcohol Recovery

What have your experiences been with recovery, detox, withdrawal or alcohol abuse? Do you have valuable advice or insight that would be helpful to others? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment section below, or head on over to on our community forum to discuss alcoholism recovery.

See Our Alcohol Addiction Fact Sheet

When Sadness and Depression Show Up in Sober Life

When Sadness and Depression Show Up in Sober Life

Tackling Depression After Becoming Sober

“Depression” is a word you may hear often during addiction recovery. Depression and addiction often go hand in hand, in a cycle that can feel impossible to break.

Feelings of depression and sadness are common during drug and alcohol abuse recovery, especially seeming to appear at the six-months sober milestone. If you’re one of many people who relate to feeling depressed in sober life, there are ways to tackle the depression demon without disrupting your progress.

Breaking the Stigma Surrounding Depression in Recovery

Addiction Recovery Meme Fight Addiction NowStigmas plague the world of addiction and recovery. There are numerous stigmas surrounding depression after becoming sober. Thanks to public figures like Demi Lovato, Kristen Bell and members of the Royal Family, the stigmas around mental health are slowly starting to dissipate.

Several major roadblocks, however, still exist. It can be difficult for a person in recovery to know how to cope with depression in a healthy, substance-free way. Education about depression in recovery is key.

Depression after becoming sober is completely normal. This may come as a surprise since the assumption is often, “If I get clean, I’ll feel better.” While this is true in many ways, it doesn’t necessarily mean saying goodbye to depression forever.

Some people live with depression their entire lives. There is not something wrong with you if you feel sad after achieving sobriety. Depression and addiction are often a dual diagnosis. You’ve dealt with your addiction, but have you addressed your underlying issues?

The Connection Between Addiction and Depression

Recovering alcoholics and depression will unfortunately always have some kind of relationship. People who develop substance dependencies often already have underlying mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety or trauma. People turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of depression – only to end up with addiction.

During recovery, the underlying issues will remain with you and rear their ugly heads every so often…unless you address them properly. This is why it’s so important to work with a professional detox and rehabilitation facility in the first few weeks of sobriety.

Clinical depression is a mental disability. It is not just a feeling, or only in your head. It is a real condition with real treatment needed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in 20 Americans report feeling depressed in the past two weeks. These are just the people who willingly admit to feeling depressed; the actual number is likely much greater.

Substance abuse is common among people with depression. Many believe drugs and alcohol will help them escape depression. In reality, nervous system depressants like alcohol often exacerbate feelings of sadness. To tackle your depression after recovery, you may need therapy, medication or a combination of treatments.

Take Action Against Depression

The secret to conquering sadness and depression is to take action. It can be irritating to hear people tell you to “just change your mood.” If you have depression, you know it’s not that easy.

Yet this piece of advice does hold some truth. It is up to you to recognize the signs of depression and to take action against it – before it consumes you. Over time, recognizing triggers and learning healthy coping mechanisms can eventually enable you to prevent depression before it even occurs.

Getting sober does not mean banishing your depression. It simply means that you’re sober. Healing the issues that sparked your addiction in the first place takes rehabilitation, therapy and learning healthy coping techniques. These “answers” will look different to everyone.

Explore different ideas and see what works for you. You may find that a practice such as yoga or meditation provides a peaceful, relaxing solution when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Or perhaps a tough workout is what you need to work through your feelings.

Turn to art, leisure, sports, hobbies, games, exercise, therapy or time with a pet or loved one to actively try to combat depression in recovery. Remember that you are not alone. You aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last, person in recovery to experience depression. Simply accept your feelings for what they are, and take steps to feel better – without substance use.

Do You Struggle with Sadness and Depression in Recovery?

Forums are excellent outlets for people struggling with sadness and depression in recovery. Getting these topics out there, shining a light on depression and talking about our unique experiences all facilitate true healing.

Have you dealt with depression during your recovery journey? You might answer “yes” if you’ve experienced:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Feelings of low self-worth or self-esteem
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Change in weight or appetite
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Feeling like you have no energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts

Feel free to share your ideas on how to tackle depression in sober life. Are you feeling depressed right now? Help is available through hotlines, professional therapy and simply talking about your feelings. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with depression; a brighter future could be just a conversation away.

Click on “Start Chat Now” or Visit Our Online Discussion Forum

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Exercise and Addiction: Is Lack of Physical Activity Causing or Worsening Your Daily Problems?

Exercise And Addiction Lack Of Exercise Causing Daily Problems - Fight Addiction Now

Most people know the value of exercise and the physical benefits that come along with it. Working out regularly helps you manage weight, improve physique and maintain the energy to handle everyday life.

However, many people neglect exercise and suffer more consequences beyond what happens to one’s physical appearance. It’s vital for everyone to know and appreciate the value of exercise for improved mood and emotional health, especially when recovering from addiction.

Why Exercise?

People who exercise on a regular basis are generally healthier, happier and more energetic than those that do not. Exercising has scientifically proven benefits to mood and happiness. Research indicates that exercising for just 20 minutes has a positive effect on mood that can last up to 12 hours. Many studies also indicate that exercise is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders, depression and addiction issues.

Positive Effects on Brain Chemistry

Exercise also encourages endorphin production in the brain and reduces negative chemical levels, particularly cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” linked to inactivity, poor diet and psychological disorders like depression. Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone that usually floods the bloodstream in response to fear and danger stimuli.

A person who does not exercise regularly has a harder time flushing these negative chemicals than a person on a regular exercise routine.

What Type of Exercise Is Best?

There is no “perfect” exercise routine that will work for everyone. A healthy exercise regimen is one that is challenging but possible, or “just right.” Some people are more competitive than others and may enjoy competitive sports for exercise, such as tennis, basketball or football.

While sports such as those are fantastic methods of increasing your physical activity, very competitive people should try to focus on other, noncompetitive forms of exercise. The reason behind this is that the desire and motivation to win can actually limit the exercise’s benefits on brain chemistry and sometimes turn it into a stressful experience.

Tips for Mood-Improving Exercise

If you already exercise but wonder if there are things you can change about your routine to reap greater mental health benefits, start by moving your workout outdoors. A half-hour on a treadmill or elliptical machine may be great for your body, but taking your exercise outdoors will have a much more positive impact on your mood.

If you live in an urban area, retreating to the quieter suburbs or rural areas for walks, hikes and runs will have a much more positive impact than attempting to get outside in the middle of the city. While some people enjoy running through busy city streets, urban environments have several drawbacks. There is more traffic congestion and thus a greater chance of suffering injury from drivers. There is also a higher concentration of pollutants in the air, which can have a negative effect on your respiratory and cardiovascular health.

Additionally, the noise and bustle of the city can be stressful for some people. Research indicates that exercise in quieter, more natural environments like state parks and rural areas helps you feel more relaxed and revitalized than exercise in densely populated areas. Keep that in mind as you exercise just to maintain your overall health or as a relapse prevention technique to keep addiction at bay.

Small Changes You Can Make at Home

If outdoor activity isn’t practical for you, you can still make the most out of working out at home. Research shows that music has a profoundly positive effect during exercise, so create a playlist of your favorite feel-good, energizing tunes to listen to during your workout routine.

If you have a treadmill but dread spending 30 minutes on it three to five times a week, watch one of your favorite shows while you run or use the elliptical. Watching TV or movies can help distract you from the exercise and make the workout seem faster.

Sex is another great way to exercise at home. Exercise researchers report that the average person burns three to four calories during every minute of sexual activity, which counts as moderate exercise.

You and your significant other can enjoy the positive benefits of regular exercise through intimacy. Additionally, maintaining a healthy exercise regimen boosts sexual desire and stamina, which can be incredibly valuable in intimate relationships.

Changing Your Diet Is Another Small Change

Exercise and Addiction Recovery:
Join the Discussion with Your Advice

Do you have an exercise routine that works really well for you? Do you do any particular exercises for specific issues like depression or anxiety? Are you looking for tips to improve your exercise regimen in realistic ways?

The Fight Addiction Now Facebook group is a grassroots community of individuals who share their thoughts and experiences about addiction, including coping mechanisms and tips for leading healthier lives. Many people who have struggled with addiction and substance abuse in their lives have discovered the value of exercise and come together here or on our Facebook page to share their experiences.

Even if you have never felt the negative effects of addiction in your own life, you can still participate in our discussions and gain valuable insight from other members in the group. If you are interested in talking about the benefits of exercise with others in a constructive and supportive environment, feel free to get the discussion started in our new online forum.

For help in finding a professional addiction treatment program that incorporates exercise into its rehab process, whether you’re currently struggling with substance abuse or it’s your loved one, let Fight Addiction Now be your guide.

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I’m Depressed And Lonely: Should I Get Prescribed Antidepressants?

Im Depressed and Lonely Should I Get Prescribed Antidepressants - Fight Addiction Now

Antidepressants help many people enjoy a higher quality of life, but these medications aren’t right for everyone.

Some people who feel depressed, lonely or otherwise unhappy may think antidepressants are the best option, but the truth is that prescription medication should be a last resort. Anyone in such a such a situation needs to do research and carefully weigh the pros and cons of prescription antidepressants.

Why Do People Use Antidepressants?

Antidepressants, like all medication, exist to treat diagnosable medical conditions. A person who starts feeling depressed or lonely shouldn’t immediately turn to prescription medications to feel better.

Ideally, only people with diagnosed medical conditions like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should receive antidepressant prescriptions. When they receive such a prescription, it is usually only after they explore and exhaust other, less-invasive options – such as lifestyle changes to diet and exercise regimens, counseling and psychotherapy. Only a medical professional can diagnose a psychological disorder and prescribe medication to treat it.

Questions to Consider Before Obtaining a Prescription

Anyone feeling depressed, lonely or otherwise unhappy with no clear, definitive reason should reflect and think about possible causes. Sometimes, depression can develop after the loss of a loved one or traumatic experience, even if the individual feels consciously at ease about the situation.

Our experiences shape our perceptions of the world in ways we don’t always immediately notice. The true effects of a traumatic experience or loss can sometimes be hard to define.

Other people experience feelings of loneliness due to high-stress work that leaves little room for social interaction, or they have difficulty maintaining relationships or few opportunities for social interaction. These individuals often benefit from shaking up the usual routine. Pursuing hobbies and activities with people who share those same interests is a great way to make friends and expand one’s social circle.

Making it a point to reach out to loved ones for regular catching-up is a great way to combat loneliness as well. The demands of modern life often lead to neglecting these relationships, and doing work to repair them can be extremely uplifting.

Diet, Sleep and Exercise

Overcome Stress Inspiration Fight Addiction NowMany people do not get the right amount of exercise and do not consume healthy diets. If you start feeling depressed or lonely but your life feels like it’s in order, take a moment to reflect on your dietary habits and exercise routine.

Lack of exercise leads to lower energy levels and diminishes feelings of fulfillment. Poor diet has negative consequences for personal health and can also make everyday life feel more challenging. Try to make better eating choices and exercise more regularly and see if that improves your mood.

Sleep is also very important for your mood. An otherwise healthy adult who goes without good sleep for one month can start displaying signs of clinical depression. Too much caffeine, high-stress jobs and other demands of daily life can prevent people from getting the bare minimum six hours each night. Make sure you allow yourself at least six hours of sleep each night and try to sleep more whenever possible. This can lead to a dramatic improvement in your overall mood.

Finally, review your alcohol consumption. Regular alcohol consumption can lead to depressive symptoms forming, so try to limit your alcohol intake or eliminate it from your diet altogether.

When to Ask About Antidepressants

If lifestyle changes don’t help improve your mood, you should see a therapist and talk about these issues. In many cases, people feeling depressed or lonely may have undiagnosed medical conditions causing these symptoms. A professional can help identify and address these issues in effective ways.

Ultimately, you should find a therapist you trust and hear what he or she has to say about your situation, including how a prescription may or may not help.

Risks of Prescription Antidepressants

Like any other medication, antidepressants carry the risk of side effects and interference with other medications. If you are taking any medications, be sure your doctor knows of them before starting a prescription for antidepressants.

Some prescribed antidepressants carry side effects that could include:

  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Sexual difficulties

Some users have reported suicidal thoughts after starting antidepressants. If you start taking any antidepressants and notice these side effects, contact your prescribing doctor immediately.

These effects may be temporary or the result of another drug interaction, so let your doctor know about the situation. It is unwise to simply stop taking them. Although there are no concrete risks of ceasing antidepressant medication, suddenly stopping can create adverse reactions and make unpleasant side effects worse.

Join the Discussion with Fight Addiction Now

Fight Addiction Now is a grassroots organization for people to come together and share their experiences about substance abuse and other drug-related issues in a supportive, constructive and judgment-free environment.

If you have had positive or negative experiences with antidepressants, your story may help someone else going through similar issues. Head on over to our Facebook page or to our new discussion forum to interact with people who would benefit from hearing your experiences.