Addiction doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere. There are many reasons why a person starts abusing substances. One popular reason is that the person is struggling with a mental illness such as depression. This mental health disorder is an illness that you must be diligent in treating even when rehab is over and you’re in addiction recovery. In fact, depression and addiction recovery often go hand in hand.
How Depression Can Cause You to Abuse Substances
The reason why depression and addiction recovery often occur together is that depression and addiction often occur together. This is because, as we stated earlier, many people start abusing substances as a way to cope with depression.
While using drugs may mask the symptoms of depression at first, over time, the drugs will only make your depression worse. This is because drugs alter the chemical balance in a person’s brain. These substances rewire the brain’s reward system by requiring individuals to intake a certain amount of substances to feel good. Therefore, people may start to do anything, including putting themselves in harm’s way to get more substances.
How Substance Abuse Can Cause Depression
Chronic substance abuse will even cause people to stop taking care of themselves altogether. Instead, those who suffer from addiction may spend all of their time trying to get more drugs. When individuals do not take care of their physical and mental health, they’re more prone to experience depressive symptoms. In little to no time at all, they might find themselves struggling with addiction and depression.
To make matters worse, once a person decides to get sober, the brain will have a sudden crash. This will cause the individual to feel depressive symptoms even more intensely than before. This is especially the case since people no longer will have drugs to mask their thoughts and emotions. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to deal with depression while in recovery.
To help you become your best self while in addiction recovery, we’re providing you with a detailed list of ways that you can manage depression while in recovery.
1. Way to Manage Depression and Addiction Recovery: Rely on Your Support Network
When you’re still trying to deal with depression symptoms after rehab, one of the best things that you can do is lean on your support network. Your support network includes any family members or friends that support your addiction recovery journey, respect your addiction recovery needs, and care about your well-being.
Your support network is the group of people that you trust and can vent to about your problems. They are the people that love you. Your therapist or fellow members in addiction recovery that you met while attending actual 12-step support groups or rehab alumni association meetups can also make up a part of your support network.
Whenever you feel down or lonely, call someone in your support network and talk to them about it. Venting about your struggles can relieve yourself of some of the depressive feelings that you have inside.
You can even lean on people in your support network whenever you’re put in a social situation that may tempt you into relapsing. For example, if you’re attending a celebratory party or event that people will drink alcohol or use recreational drugs at, you may want to ask someone from your support network to go to the party or event with you. That way you’ll have someone there to help hold you accountable for your sobriety.
2. Be Open to Medical Treatment
Sometimes depression becomes severe enough to need medication to help treat it. If this is the case for you, do not resist medical attention. Mental illnesses, like depression, are indeed illnesses. Therefore, you should not feel shame when receiving medical attention for it.
3. Practice Self-Care
If you don’t take care of your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, you’ll never feel like you best. That’s why some people that don’t take care of themselves while suffering from addiction develop depression. Thus, when managing depression and addiction recovery, self-care is essential.
Self-care comes in a variety of forms. Taking a bubble bath can act as self-care. Hanging out with friends can act as self-care. Even something as simple as watching your favorite movie can act as self-care. Whatever you need or want to feel happy and your best self acts as self-care.
4. Establish a Daily Routine
Many people who deal with depression after drug addiction get in a rut that causes them to lay in bed all day and dwell in their depressive symptoms. Doing this only makes your depression symptoms worse. To avoid falling back into a depressive rut, you should establish a daily routine.
When establishing a daily routine, come up with specific activities that you will do at specific times of the day. For example, you can start every morning with journaling and exercising. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to a daily routine. Otherwise, it’s not a routine.
5. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Your physical health has a direct effect on your mental health. One of the best ways to maintain good physical health is to eat a healthy diet. In turn, eating a healthy diet will also help you maintain good mental health.
For a diet to be healthy, it must be balanced and nutritious. This means making sure that you get all your necessary vitamins and minerals each day and making sure that you are eating enough foods each day from each food group. If you’re concerned that you can’t get all your necessary vitamins and minerals through your food intake, look into taking multivitamins.
Exercising is a great practice to use to help manage depression and addiction recovery. This is because exercising helps blood flow through the brain and body. It also releases toxins from the body and helps your brain release endorphins.
Endorphins are chemicals that your brain releases to reduce your perception of pain and increase your positive feelings. By increasing positive feelings and decreasing pain perception, you are minimizing your depressive symptoms. By releasing toxins from your body, you’re increasing blood flow in your brain and body and reducing your pain perception. Exercising is also helping your body better cope with being newly sober while in recovery.
7. Spend Time Outside
When you spend time outside, you’re allowing your body to receive vitamin D through natural sunlight. Receiving vitamin D through natural sunlight is great for your body’s natural functions. For example, this vitamin can boost your body’s immune system. This is great for someone managing depression and addiction recovery because both depression and addiction are known to lower your body’s immune system.
Receiving natural sunlight during the day also helps your body regulate your sleep at night. This is very beneficial for people that are suffering from depression since one of the major symptoms of depression is sleep issues. Natural sunlight even helps regulate your mood and weight. Because depression directly affects your mood and weight by causing them to go through extreme highs and lows, receiving something like natural sunlight to help regulate those things in a person that’s managing depression is highly beneficial.
Another way to boost your mood is to think outside of yourself and practice gratitude. One way to do this is to volunteer for other people. Giving back to others will help you recognize that life is much bigger than you and your problems. Volunteering can also help you acknowledge all the good things about your life. If nothing else, volunteering can give you a productive activity to do, which in turn, will reduce the amount of time that you have to sulk in your depression or consider relapsing.
9. Practice Stress Management Techniques
Regardless of all the measures that you take to manage your depression and addiction recovery, there are going to be times in which you become stressed due to life’s obstacles or temptation to relapse. To help you get through those stressful moments, you should practice stress management techniques. Some stress management techniques that are great for people that are overcoming depression after drug addiction include yoga and meditation, deep breathing exercises, and therapy.
10. Pick Up a New Hobby
If you want to stop feeling depressed and involve yourself in activities that help you progress in your addiction recovery journey, you should participate in new and exciting activities that you enjoy. As long as those activities are positive in nature, legal, and do not include alcohol or drugs, you are good to go.
One way to ensure that you keep up with a positive and fun activity is to pick it up as a hobby. That way you are more likely to practice that activity regularly. Examples of hobbies that you could pick up while in recovery from depression and addiction include hiking, sowing, playing a sport, learning to play a musical instrument, and painting.
At the end of the day, whatever hobbies that you enjoy the most, should be the ones that you do. You never know, practicing a new hobby can be the thing that allows you to socialize with others and create new friends that you can add to your support network. Practicing a new hobby can also provide you with the skills to obtain a new profession.
At the end of the day, managing depression and addiction recovery are two difficult journies that you cannot go through successfully on your own. That’s why it’s important to ask questions and look to others for assistance whenever you need it.
Free by the Sea is Here to Serve You
At Free by the Sea, we provide treatments that you can use to overcome depression and addiction recovery. To help you overcome addiction we provide rehab services for addiction to substances such as alcohol, prescription drugs, heroin, and cocaine. To help you overcome addiction and depression, we also provide different forms of therapy. Some of the forms of therapy that we provide include cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and EMDR therapy.
At the end of the day, we here at Free By the Sea are dedicated to providing you with the best addiction treatment and mental illness services possible. To learn more about Free by the Sea and the services that we provide, feel free to contact us anytime.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.