Regular readers of this blog know that Wooded Glen Recovery Center is invested in the treatment of more than substance use disorders. We are also committed to addressing co-occurring mental health disorders. The reason for this is simple: sobriety and good mental health are intertwined. 

In some cases, a mental health disorder plays a major role in the development of a substance use disorder. In other cases, ongoing substance use undermines a person’s mental health. And in many cases, the question of which kind of disorder is the cause and which is the effect is all but impossible to answer with any confidence. 

Of course, in the end, it doesn’t really matter which came first. All that matters is taking the appropriate steps to shore up both your mental health and your sobriety. Given that understanding a problem is a good first step toward improvement, in this entry, we will take a look at some common mental health disorders that may be mixed up with your substance use disorder.

Depression is not an Emotion

In everyday language use, folks tend to toss around the word “depression” without too much thought. “Depressed,” for example, is often used as a synonym for “sad.” Sadness—an emotion we all feel from time to time and which generally has an identifiable source—is not the same as depression. Depression is not an emotion; it is a mental health disorder.

There are quite a number of different kinds of depression—including major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, and more. Each of these forms of depression has its own characteristics, but there are some symptoms that you can generally count on. They include (but are not limited to):

  • A loss of interest in activities that a person previously found engaging
  • A low mood that persists over long period of times
  • Sleep issues ranging from insomnia to sleeping too much
  • A lack of motivation and energy
  • Difficulty concentrating

A person experiencing depression might be tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate. Alternately, some substances can induce the symptoms of depression. As we have noted, knowing how mental health disorders and substance use disorders are intertwined is less important than knowing that they are intertwined so that any treatment for one includes vigilance concerning the other.

Anxiety Involves a Worrisome Amount of Worrying

Just as we are all sad from time to time, we also all worry now and again. Generally, a sense of worry has an identifiable cause, and once that cause is resolved (the loved one who is traveling reaches their destination safely, for example), the worry tends to fade away.

But for individuals struggling with an anxiety or panic disorder, the worry never stops—even when it does not have a clear cause. In addition to being persistent, these feelings of anxiety tend to be quite intense as well. A person suffering from anxiety may feel the speed of their heartbeat increasing or may feel lightheaded or dizzy. Sleep may be difficult, concentration may be elusive, and disruptions relating to food (eating too much or not being able to eat at all) may be in play.

As with depression, anxiety disorders can lead a person to try drugs or alcohol as a way to overcome the feelings of panic. Some drugs also lead to an increase in feelings of anxiety. So once again, thinking about the interconnectedness of mental health and substance use disorders is always important.

Tackling Trauma Can Be Tricky

For people who suffer from mental health disorders grounded in traumatic experiences (including post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD), drugs or alcohol might seem to offer an escape. In the case of these disorders, it can be fairly clear that the trauma predates the substance use. But even in the case of disorders centered on trauma, the important thing is to remember that mental health disorders and substance use disorders are often in interaction—and neither makes the other better. Instead, improvement in one is a good step toward improvement in the other.

Here Is Something We Hope Occurs to You: Wooded Glen Can Help

If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, our Indiana team can help you regain your sobriety while also addressing co-occurring mental health disorders. We provide medically supervised detoxification, group and individual therapy in our rehabilitation program, and a continuum of care that provides ongoing support as your recovery journey gets underway.

When you seek out treatment for a substance use disorder, it is important to find a program that takes your mental well-being as seriously as your sobriety. That is exactly what you will find when you come to Wooded Glen Recovery Center.