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Statistically, depression is not the most common mental illness; however, researchers believe it affects one out of every fifteen American adults. This averages out to approximately 7% of the American population over the age of eighteen every year. Symptoms of depression (or a diagnosis of major depressive disorder) can occur at any age; however, it most often appears when one is in their early teens through early 20s. Like many mental health conditions, women experience depression at a greater rate than men. Some studies indicate that more than one-third of women will experience major depression at some point.

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What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Depression is often called by several names. You may hear medical or mental health providers refer to depression as clinical depression, major depression, or major depressive disorder. When you struggle with depression, you experience many overwhelming symptoms that inhibit your ability to actively engage in daily life. Depression is characterized by intense feelings of emptiness, irritability, and sadness. To receive a diagnosis of depression, symptoms must last for at least two weeks. Also, the symptoms that accompany depressive episodes must differ from your daily level of functioning when symptoms are not present. 


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What are the Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder?

Major depressive disorder is characterized by episodes of depressive symptoms. A depressive episode occurs when you have symptoms associated with depression for a minimum of two weeks. Depression episodes may vary in length and severity. Some episodes may last for a short duration (approximately two weeks) and begin to fade, whereas others may persist for weeks or months. 

Without treatment for depression, the symptoms can get progressively worse and lead to significant impairment and, in some cases, self-harm or suicide. Individuals who struggle with major depressive disorder may experience partial or total remission periods. During these periods, their symptoms may go away, or they may experience a significant reduction in their symptoms feelings of sadness, anger or hopelessness, irritability, low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulties concentrating, loss of interest in hobbies or activities, appetite and weight changes, poor personal hygiene, sleep problems, isolation, and self-harm. In the most severe cases, frequent thoughts or talk of death, dying, and suicide are common. 

Studies also link major depressive disorder to an increased risk for a variety of other illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and other chronic illnesses. Chronic depression is also connected to acceleration in or worsening of other illnesses like hypertension and heart disease. Having depression can make treating these other medical conditions more challenging due to a lack of motivation and reduced energy associated with depression. These can make complying with treatment regimens complicated.

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How Does Depression Impact Substance Use?

Some studies show a direct connection between depression and drug and alcohol use disorders. According to researchers, having one condition may increase your risk of developing the other. Also, struggling with symptoms of one disease can worsen the symptoms of both illnesses. 

Both depression and addiction rank among the most prevalent mental health conditions and frequently co-occur.

There are several reasons co-occurring conditions like addiction and depression develop. Some dual diagnosis conditions develop due to genetic factors. In other cases, the symptoms of depression become so complex and debilitating that the individual turns to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Frequently using substances as a symptom management tool inevitably makes it difficult to manage depression without using or drinking. Unfortunately, this leads to reliance on substances to help relieve symptoms and improve mood. Chronic self-medication using drugs or alcohol will eventually lead to a substance use disorder.

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry also reinforces the direct connection between substance use disorders and depression in some cases. Several studies have shown that substance abuse can lead to depressive symptoms. Additionally, regular and ongoing drug or alcohol abuse can “worsen depressive symptoms in those who already experience depressive disorders or who may be vulnerable to the condition .”When someone experiences depression linked to drugs or alcohol, they may notice the symptoms reduce or stop altogether if they stop drinking or using. However, research indicates that substance-induced depression (depression resulting from drinking alcohol or using drugs) generally evolves into a clinical or persistent depressive disorder.

Many people turn to alcohol to help control and reduce symptoms of depression. Ironically, using alcohol to manage depression frequently leads to the exact opposite effect. In some cases, using alcohol as a way to cope with depression can lead to another form of depression known as alcohol-induced depression. Alcohol-induced depression or alcohol-induced depressive disorder is the state of depression that occurs only during or in the time shortly after alcohol intoxication or alcohol withdrawal. In most cases, symptoms of depression specific to alcohol use resolved within three to four weeks of ongoing sobriety. It is important to note that substance-induced depression or alcohol-induced depression is different from traditional depression diagnoses. For diagnosis of alcohol-induced depression to be given, the severe symptoms one experiences after or while drinking must be directly related to intoxication or withdrawal. Symptoms of depression cannot be present before the onset of drinking or withdrawal for symptoms to be considered alcohol-induced depression.

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How to Find Dual Diagnosis Depression Treatment in Southern California

Experiencing symptoms of both depression and a substance use disorder means you have a dual diagnosis condition. Because the symptoms of dual diagnoses are often heavily interconnected, it is impossible (and ineffective) to address the conditions separately. Current research has yet to prove whether one condition is the root cause of the other. Still, mental health and addiction treatment professionals understand that co-occurring symptoms can lead to harmful coping mechanisms. 

If you or a loved one struggles with the symptoms of a dual diagnosis condition, the best opportunity to safely and successfully overcome symptoms is choosing treatment at a dual diagnosis treatment center. It is important to mention that not all treatment facilities are equipped to manage dual diagnosis treatment needs. Therefore, it is essential to do your research and choose a program that will help you heal and overcome your symptoms. 

You can expect a multifaceted treatment program at a Southern California dual diagnosis treatment facility. Most programs begin with a comprehensive assessment (or intake interview), followed by detox, therapy, and aftercare. The assessment process is a vital first step as it allows your treatment team to learn more about your mental health, depression symptoms, and relationship with alcohol. The intake process is essential to ensuring your treatment team understands your current overall health. It is also a vital part of the treatment planning process. 

Overcoming a dual diagnosis condition like depression and a substance use disorder requires a comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment at a Southern California depression treatment program like Coachella Valley Treatment Center. Not all mental health or addiction treatment programs are designed to address the needs of dual diagnosis conditions. Therefore, it is vital to find a treatment program where your treatment needs will be met. If you are ready to live without depression symptoms, contact us at Coachella Valley Treatment Center today to learn more about depression treatment in Southern California

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