No matter how independent you feel you are, attempting to handle depression solo can have consequences. Responses to untreated depression can be inconsistent or ineffective. They can even lead to misusing drugs and alcohol. Today, let’s look at five reasons to get therapy for depression as soon as possible.
Untreated depression can affect a person’s physical health and well-being, relationships, and employment. It may lead to misuse of drugs and alcohol as forms of self-medication. Starting virtual or in-person therapy for depression offers numerous benefits. Benefits include learning to make healthy choices and improving self-advocacy. Co-occurring treatment is recommended for people with both depression and a history of misusing drugs or alcohol.
Five Benefits of Therapy for Depression
You may struggle in knowing how to reach out for help with your depression. You may avoid seeing people when you’re depressed or make excuses about missing events. It can feel easy to shut down or cut yourself off frequently when depression takes over.
Therapy can be a valuable way to reintroduce yourself to what’s best for you and being able to communicate it to others. Learning to address, not avoid, issues in life is a form of self-advocacy. You’re entitled to find support for your mental health. You’re entitled to be provided tools to solve problems when you need them.
Depression can persuade a person that problems are coming from outside people, circumstances, and experiences. A depressed person may look for ways to blame others for how they feel. Their sense that they lack control over their life can intensify the feelings tied to depression.
Therapy teaches a person how taking action in response to their depression and remaining in charge of the response is important. The depressed patient can get help growing confident in their ability to identify their own strengths. Self-empowerment also develops when they learn how to overcome their weaknesses.
3. Healthier decision-making
Depression is capable of disrupting self-care routines, mealtime habits, sleep schedules, and much more. It can create momentum in making choices that do more harm than good. A depressed person may not see how all of these things are connected to the state of their mental health.
Therapy can offer a look at how making healthy decisions can help reduce the symptoms of depression. Prioritizing good decisions can improve a person’s quality of life. It may look like eating nutritious food, creating new bedtime routines, and spending time around supportive people.
4. Introduction to coping strategies
Think about the ways you cope with depression now. You may stay in bed a lot longer some days. You may watch shows or listen to music that sustains your low mood. You may overeat or skip meals altogether.
Therapy helps a depressed person learn new ways to cope with the feelings that come with depression. New coping strategies can involve activities you do alone: journaling, yoga, working out, riding your bike, or learning a new skill. Joining a group activity can be a valuable coping strategy as it helps you build community around you.
5. Reframed perspective on life
A depressed person may spend a great deal of time with their own negative thoughts. Negative self-talk can become a daily activity and shape the way you see your life and the world around you. Constant negativity can produce a hefty amount of bitterness and resentment.
Safe, effective therapy for depression helps a person see their life in a new way. Changing perspectives enables you to have the freedom to consciously seek happiness. Being able to change perspectives can also invite more peace into your life as you better understand the thoughts and attitudes of others.
Consequences of Untreated Depression
The effects of avoiding therapy for depression can touch every part of a person’s life. Nothing is insulated from its reach. Untreated depression can lead to weight changes, job loss, academic struggles, relationship issues, and so on. If left untreated for a long time, the list of outcomes can grow and intensify.
If you look at your own life, you may already see signs of how your depression has affected you. It may take being asked specific questions about your mental health for you to see what’s really going on. For example, ask yourself, is your depression interfering with your ability to be productive at work? If so, is it happening a couple of times a week or more than half the month? The answers to questions like these can help you clearly see the impact of neglecting your mental health needs.
Behaviors tied to untreated depression can affect a person’s financial stability. If you’re unable to maintain employment, taking care of responsibilities such as rent or mortgage and monthly bills can become an issue. The loss of a stable home sends many depressed people in search of short-term housing, including couchsurfing or Airbnb stays.
One of the most significant outcomes of untreated depression can be the regular use of drugs or alcohol. “Drugs” here doesn’t have to mean illegal drugs only. The use of medications prescribed to family members or friends can be a choice made by a depressed person. They may even steal these meds in hopes that the drug will help them cope for a short time.
Depression and Addiction
A depressed person may start using drugs or alcohol as a short-term solution for coping. They’re not thinking beyond what’s happening at the moment. There’s no plan for how to address the bigger picture of their mental health.
The steady use of substances to deal with depression compromises a person’s health and safety. They may turn to a drug within their reach at first and steadily increase its use over time. If they feel the effects of drinking aren’t enough, the untreated depressed person may turn to stronger substances, including opioids.
All substances don’t share a timeline for addiction. Someone who’s drinking may take longer to develop a substance use disorder (SUD) than a person who’s using an opioid. Regardless of the drug, the chance of developing a SUD increases with steady use over time. If you have been using for months (or longer) with depression, you’re at risk now of becoming addicted to one or more substances.
It’s not uncommon for someone with undiagnosed depression as a teen to start drinking or doing drugs. They may not be aware of what got them started. When years and even decades pass, they may attempt to quit drinking or using drugs, without knowing their behavior has been sustained by untreated depression the whole time.
Co-Occurring Treatment for Depression and Addiction
If you have tried getting treatment for addiction alone before, there’s a reason you might have struggled to stay sober. Your recovery efforts after treatment may have lasted a few weeks or maybe longer. Eventually, you returned to using substances when your depression symptoms returned.
Sustaining recovery long-term comes from knowing all of the factors affecting you. Both addiction and depression play a role in interfering with your attempts to get sober and stay sober. This is a situation when dual diagnosis treatment is recommended, which may include intensive outpatient programming for addiction and individual or group therapy for depression.
Getting treatment for both depression and addiction at the same time is a significant factor in helping a patient start healing. A program offering treatment for co-occurring disorders helps a patient see the relationship between substance use and mental health. In treatment, they learn about themselves and how they’ve responded to their needs in unhealthy ways. They can practice new, healthy coping strategies that help free them from past self-destructive choices.
Co-occurring treatment for depression and addiction is not a one-time response, though. It’s part of a continuous effort to protect your recovery. As you begin treatment, you will benefit from developing additional ways to sustain sobriety long-term. These can come, in part, from creating a supportive, sober community around you.
Origins Counseling is a new program in Dallas, Texas, made available by a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We provide a comprehensive diagnostic assessment and evaluation, as well as renowned clinical care for addiction. We have the compassion and professional expertise needed to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561.841.1264.