Everyone worries, feels sad, or grieves after a loss. Feeling run down or sad occasionally is perfectly normal but when those feelings don’t go away and begin to affect your work, sleep, relationships, and personal life – you have a problem. Major depression, also known as clinical depression, is defined as a mental health disorder characterized by a persistently depressed mood that causes a significant impact on daily life. A major depressive disorder goes far beyond life’s ordinary ups and downs.
People with major depression can’t find a way to make their lives fulfilling, properly regulate their emotions, may lose interest in their relationships and hobbies, and slowly become numb to life. A diagnosis of clinical depression comes when the person suffers debilitating symptoms on most days for more than a two-week period.
What Causes Depression?
There is no one cause for depression and no little pill to fix everything. Some people are biologically or genetically predisposed to depression. However, environmental and social factors like trauma can also play a role in someone’s psychological stress and lead to depression. Genetics, environment, trauma, loss of a loved one, and many more factors can lead to clinical depression.
The National Institute of Mental Health agrees, stating most depression is likely caused by a combination of different biological, genetic, psychological, and social factors. Most people with depression are diagnosed through a series of questions and answers from a certified mental health counselor. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shows the brains of people diagnosed with depression operate differently than a normal brain. However, MRIs normally do not diagnose depression. They cannot tell us why some people become depressed over others.
Depression is more likely to occur alongside a family of history of depression, but a person can become depressed without any previous family history. Clinical health researchers are already studying specific genes to help form new therapies and better treatment options. On the other hand, there could be multiple sets of genes that determine how someone processes depression and treatment.
How Many People Suffer from Depression?
18.8 million Americans experience depression according to WebMD. Women are twice as likely to experience a major depressive disorder than men. Though depression is widespread and can be severe, most depression responds to clinically proven therapy. Counselors may use a combination of drug therapy, counseling, and more to help the sufferer manage and mitigate their depression.
Professor of Stanford University Biology, Neurology, and Neurosurgery Robert M. Sapolsky wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times about the suicidal pilot of Germanwings 9525 Andreas Lubitz. He spoke about the different factors and effects of depression. Sapolsky noted, “depression, like all mental illness, is an illness, a disease…” He notes that “depression is a neurochemical disorder rooted in genetic vulnerability and stressful environmental triggers…” meaning there’s no one root cause of depression.
In the piece, Sapolsky describes diagnosed depression as the “disease in which every cell in the body drowns with groundless anguish, and with suffocating feelings of being hopeless and helpless, in which any attempt to keep despair about the exigencies of life at bay with rationalization fails, replaced with a chest-crushing, metastasized sadness.” Sapolsky also points out the devastating link between depression and suicide with more than 40,000 annual suicides in the U.S. alone. The point that Sapolsky drives home is that depression isn’t a temporary issue but a life-killing illness that deserves high-quality treatment.
It’s very common to see co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, with patients suffering from depression. For a long time, mental health counselors were trying to figure out if depression causes addiction or if the addiction causes depression. However, they no longer believe one must come from the other. Either addiction or depression can come first with people self-medicating for depression or people becoming depressed due to their addiction. Because depression can make addiction worse, and vice versa, patients suffering from either are in a much more vulnerable state.
Treatment for Addiction and Depression
Many people shy away from treatment for both depression and addiction due to social stigma and shame. But the good news is both issues can be treated with the proper counseling and treatment plan.
For co-occurring disorders, dual diagnosis therapy with prolonged aftercare is the most intensive option that yields the best results. In dual diagnosis therapy, you will receive the best counseling. Discovery Transitions can’t cure your depression or addiction but can teach you the right tools for lifelong mitigation and management.
Getting Help for Depression and Addiction
If you’re suffering through a dual diagnosis of depression and addiction, every day you don’t get help is another day where the vicious cycle continues. Discovery Transitions in Los Angeles, CA has the experience and professionally trained staff to carefully craft a long-term dual diagnosis treatment plan. Our program will help you get over the hump of depression and addiction.
If you’re suffering from co-occurring disorders like depression and addiction, call Discovery Transitions today. We craft a personalized treatment plan for all of our clients. Both depression and anxiety can bring your life to a halt – but there is a way out through Discovery Transitions treatment.