To prevent a relapse during the addiction recovery process, it is imperative to first understand the relation between addiction and depression. This is an important step as it has been found that addiction is accompanied by various co-occurring disorders and thus a chance of relapse during a recovery program becomes high due to depression.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are now the first-line treatment for acute depression. These drugs increase the level of serotonin in the brain. However, SSRIs and antidepressants have a bad reputation among addicts and, many of them refuse to take this medication, assuming it can worsen the addiction.
Saying no to antidepressants
In severe cases antidepressants can be of great help in the recovery process. But since these pills do not give the feeling of the usual ‘high’ like other drugs, it may take months and years for patients to get addicted. Patients fail to abuse the drugs in spite of following the usual pattern of gradually increasing the doses.
Besides, these medicines are available only through prescription. Thus, it helps in the recovery of patients without posing any other risk. However, it has been found that patients are reluctant to use antidepressants because they take time to exhibit signs of response. Since a longer time is required to understand if the pills are showing positive results, patients tend to lose hope midway the recovery process.
According to Mayo Clinic, the side effects of SSRIs are restlessness, nausea, sexual problems, and gastrointestinal upset and this makes patients reluctant to use these drugs. If consumed for a long time, patients get immune to SSRIs and this may be another factor for patients to not trust this therapy.
Understanding relation between depression and addiction
Based on the data from National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding violent deaths in 16 U.S. states for 2009, it was found that 33.5 percent of suicide decedents tested positive for alcohol and 24 percent for antidepressants.
For individuals with repeated depressive episodes, a combination of therapy and antidepressants is the most effective course of treatment. Understanding the relation between depression and addiction is important as it will help the counselor decide the line of treatment to be adopted. Four key points should be kept in mind while zeroing in on the line of treatment:
- • A depressed patient may not develop addiction
- • An addict may not develop depression
- • Co-occurring disorder patients require different treatments for both the conditions
- • Both the conditions impact the recovery process
There are chances that the victim may develop SSRI discontinuation syndrome. The symptoms vary from person to person. Users may get dependent on SSRIs and face major withdrawal symptoms. It is important for counselors to make sure that information about possible discontinuation syndrome is communicated to the patient.
Other factors like choice of medication and duration of the medication can also alter the results. In case of dual diagnosis addicts it is important to understand the priorities and treat both addiction and the mental disorder. Psychiatrist should make sure the addict is not drinking caffeine or smoking cigarettes or taking other prescription medications that may interfere with antidepressants.
About the Author
Timothy Galeas is associated with California Dual Diagnosis Helpline for many years. California Dual Diagnosis Helpline provides assistance in finding dual diagnosis treatment centers. For more information visit www.californiadualdiagnosishelpline.com or call 855-980-1736.