Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, and it is frequently experienced by individuals who have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD). Coping with depression and recovering from substance use at the same time has the potential to exacerbate symptoms of both conditions. The link between the two reveals a complicated relationship that can include:
- Self-medication to overcome symptoms of depression leading to addiction
- Temporary or long-term depression developing as a symptom of the withdrawal process
- Depression developing during recovery due to unrelated traumatic or stressful situations
Recovering while battling depression is challenging, but coping skills can help you find a healthy way to move forward. Treatments will vary depending on the severity of your symptoms, but there are helpful therapy exercises and lifestyle changes that can improve both conditions.
Talk to Your Doctor About Depression
Not everyone is aware they have depression, and it can be difficult for medical professionals to diagnose it if you have other co-occurring disorders that share similar traits. There is some overlap in the symptoms of depression and the early stages of recovery from SUD. Common signs of depression include unexplained mood, behavioral, cognitive, or physical changes. Being formally diagnosed is critical because it can provide an avenue for getting therapy and treatment aimed towards depression.
Create Recovery Goals for Overcoming Depression
If you have been diagnosed with depression, you can take steps to lessen the impact it has on your life. Recovery from substance abuse involves creating a series of goals that you work towards each day. They act as motivation and success mile markers. You can use the same strategy for overcoming the symptoms of depression. There is evidence that succeeding at goals can increase self-efficacy and improve mood. You can work together with your therapist or other support team members to develop realistic daily, weekly, or monthly goals. Below are a few criteria that can increase the likelihood of success:
- Make goals very clear and specific. For example, instead of choosing “do more self-care” as a goal, you could say, “spend twenty minutes meditating on positive thoughts each day.”
- Ensure that whatever you choose is both realistic and easy to quantify so you can keep track of progress. For example, instead of “exercise every day,” you could say, “walk the dog for ten minutes twice a week.”
- It is helpful to set a time frame for when you would like to start and complete the goal.
Several key features of depression are a lack of motivation and energy combined with feelings of sadness. More minor achievements can be used as fuel to keep you moving forward so you can push past those negative emotions.
Lifestyle Changes to Help You Overcome Addiction and Depression
Your lifestyle has a direct impact on your mental and physical well-being. Below are five changes that can improve your recovery and lessen symptoms. These can also function as structures within which you can build new goals. For example, “regular exercise” can translate to taking a thirty-minute walk twice a week.
- Exercise Regularly: Exercise to make you feel energized and more motivated by doing something like yoga, swimming, walking, biking, weight training, or learning a new sport.
- Get Quality Sleep: Excessive tiredness affects around 40% of all people with depression, and getting a healthy amount of restful sleep each night can help. An adult should get between seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
- Participate in Enjoyable Activities: Make time each week for an activity you enjoy, such as watching a movie, drawing, crafting, cooking, or blogging.
- Stay Hydrated and Eat Healthily: A balanced diet and staying hydrated can improve cognitive function and general health, which often improves mood and can help with your recovery.
- Cultivate Positive Relationships: We all need help sometimes, and having positive, encouraging relationships that you can rely on will make a big difference in how you cope.
Practice Everyday Positivity
You can succeed in fighting depression and maintaining long-term sobriety. A holistic approach towards healthy living and a positive attitude can help you cope and provide a way to regulate your emotions. Practicing positivity is straightforward and can be done using simple tasks like listing out all the good things that happened throughout your day or choosing to focus only on the good things you have planned for the week. The more you consciously decide to think optimistically about your recovery and life in general, the easier it will be to make it a habit that will become second nature. Motivation, lifestyle changes, and instilling a sense of optimism into your everyday life are all tools you can use to journey towards a healthier, happier future.
Mental health and substance use disorders are often co-occurring. Their symptoms can overlap and feed off each other if concrete steps are not taken to treat and control them. Depression is one of the most common mood disorders, and it can impact all aspects of daily life. At Sober Life, we believe that everyone experiencing depression during their recovery can use some extra self-help tools to improve their chances of long-term success. Coping skills include creating realistic goals, practicing positivity, and using your support system to encourage you during challenging moments. Proper self-care and a healthy lifestyle will make it easier to combat depression and keep you on track with your recovery. Sober Life is here to help. We have a variety of therapy and treatment options. Reach out today to find out more about our facility and the services we have to offer by calling us at (619) 542-9542.