Uncomfortable emotions like sadness, fear, and anger are commonplace in everyday life. These feelings are natural and should be expected. They can be reactions to events both big and small, or they may occur without any apparent reason. Usually, they are transient and will fade and become easier to cope with as time passes. As you continue on your path toward recovery, you will most likely find yourself experiencing a wide range of positive and negative emotions. While these are normal experiences, negative emotions can sometimes become unmanageable and persistent. In these cases, mental health conditions like anxiety and depression can develop.
Anxiety and depression are tied to substance use and substance use disorder (SUD). Some people find that using drugs and alcohol provides temporary relief to some of the symptoms of these mental health conditions. In cases of anxiety, someone might use drugs to feel calmer or provide a distraction. For those with depression, certain substances might elevate their mood.
No matter the reason someone uses substances, this type of use can quickly get out of hand. Becoming reliant on drugs and alcohol to get through painful emotions can ultimately create more problems than it appears to solve. Just as anxiety and depression can lead to addiction, substance abuse can also lead to mental health complications. This is due to the changes in the brain that can occur with the use of substances.
Anxiety vs. Depression
Anxiety and depression are two common mental health conditions with various types and symptoms. They can often occur alongside one another as well as alongside substance abuse.
Anxiety involves excessive or disproportionate worry that can occur with or without certain triggers. While some people experience anxiety in social situations, other people may have fears associated with specific things or places. The symptoms of anxiety can vary greatly, but they are generally as follows:
- Difficulty relaxing
- Inability to concentrate
- Pain in the head, stomach, or muscles that cannot be attributed to other causes
- Rumination or inability to stop worrying
- Avoidance of certain people, places, or things
- Fear of social situations
Some people with anxiety may also experience panic attacks, which are periods of intense anxiety and dread accompanied by physical symptoms like a racing heart, shaking, chest pain, and sweating. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider about physical symptoms, particularly with panic attacks, as these episodes can often mimic severe health events like heart attacks.
Depression is a condition that affects a person’s mood. It can develop on its own or in response to certain events, such as after giving birth or when the seasons change. The effects of depression can greatly impact a person’s relationships and success in school or work. When a person experiences symptoms for at least two weeks, they are considered to have depression. These symptoms can include:
- Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Pain and gastrointestinal distress that does not seem to have a physical cause
- Changes in weight and appetite
- No longer being interested in or finding joy in your hobbies
- Having trouble concentrating and thinking
- Experiencing thoughts of suicide
Coping With Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety can feel insurmountable at times, especially if you are also working toward recovery. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with these symptoms while staying sober.
Seeking treatment from a mental health professional is the best strategy for learning these coping skills. Working with a provider who understands substance abuse in addition to anxiety and depression will provide you with comprehensive and effective care. Finding the right therapist for your needs can take time, but it is well worth it.
There are various therapies that can help with anxiety and depression. One of the most utilized modalities is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps to identify thought and behavior patterns that reinforce negative emotions. A therapist who uses CBT in their practice can help you change your approach to situations that cause you distressing symptoms.
Exposure therapy is another method of treatment that pertains specifically to anxiety. It involves exposing yourself to anxiety triggers over time until you become more able to cope with the fear that they produce. Many mental health professionals also integrate mindfulness and other approaches into their treatment.
Beyond therapy, there are strategies you can utilize in your everyday life to live well with anxiety and depression. Establishing a good self-care routine is an essential foundation. This means meeting your nutrition and exercise needs, engaging in activities you enjoy, sleeping adequately, and maintaining positive social relationships.
You might also find that participating in support groups can help you. Support groups can reduce feelings of isolation and provide you with new ideas about how to manage your symptoms.
Anxiety and depression can make recovery from substance use disorder challenging. The distressing symptoms of these conditions can make it hard to keep up with your obligations and routines and stay optimistic about the future ahead. This is why addressing anxiety and depression is important in treating addiction. Family-Centered Services understands the importance of providing comprehensive care to you and your loved ones. That’s why we offer an array of services, including individual and family therapy, a Family Recovery Program, case management, sober accountability, and treatment placement consultation. Call us today at (509) 991-5822 so that we can learn more about your needs and help you start the path toward recovery.