first: always follow your doctor’s suggestions, and theirs alone. They’re the
only one who can help you manage addressing whatever is causing you to feel
down. Addictive illness often goes with other
mental (i.e., brain-based) disorders, including depression. It’s more than the
occasional “let-down;” it’s a many-sided disorder in mood-regulating centers
of the brain, and it shows itself in a wide variety of symptoms. What’s more,
depression and addictive disorders often appear at the same time, creating a
wide range of symptoms and challenges to recovery. When the person gets into
recovery, the depression symptoms can emerge because they’re not being masked
by the effects of alcohol or other drugs.
of a dimmer switch, which turns a light down but not off. The lamp is still on,
but it’s not shining at full brightness. That’s what depression does to the
brain: it dims much of the brain’s activity, causing a kind of “brown-out” in
functions throughout the brain and rest of the body. The medicine your doctor
prescribed can be a big help in “turning up the power” closer to normal. Take
it exactly as she prescribed it, and if you have any problems, call her before you stop taking it or go up or
down on the dose.
the most-common symptom of depression is a generally depressed and sad mood.
Other symptoms are loss of interest in things which used to please you,
fatigue, fretting about things, loss of (or increase in) appetite,
irritability, rumination on real or perceived negatives in your life, sleep
imbalances, trouble concentrating, unreliable memory, aches and pains, finding
it burdensome to carry out even the simplest of tasks, and feelings of guilt,
hopelessness and unworthiness. One symptom which must not be ignored is
thinking (or maybe even planning) to harm yourself. These are the symptoms that
your doctor keyed on to make your diagnosis.
at highest risk for depression include those who’ve been depressed before,
those with no support system, those who’ve had problems with alcohol or drug
abuse, those who have other major life stresses, and those with a family
history of depression. (There’s known to be a genetic component to
many cases of depression, which is why your doctor would know to ask you about
any family history of depression or suicide.)
Well, that’s the bad news. Seems like an awful lot
of bad news, doesn’t it? So, what’s the good news? The good news is that
depression and addiction are both highly responsive to proper treatment and to
support. You have a lot of people pulling for you, and knowing that is one of
the most powerfully healing realities you have going for you! These days,
there’s a very strong likelihood that people with addiction and depression—including
you—can go on to lead a happy, productive life!