We Effectively Treat Depressive Disorders

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Depression. You hear about it. You read about it. You may know someone who has struggled with it in the past or is living with it in the present. That person might be someone in your family or inner circle. That person might be you. You are not alone. While it is completely normal to have episodes of grief and sorrow (losing a loved one, going through a breakup or a divorce), depressive disorders have roots that run much deeper and become obstacles to living life fully. Depression and its associated disorders are not the occasional, normal bump in the road of life. Depression is a disorder that can cause continued overwhelming sadness, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in things that once brought pleasure, reduced appetite, and decreased or low energy. It makes even the simplest tasks challenging; it can cast a dark shadow and sense of heaviness or doom around your everyday life and seemingly swallow you whole. While it is completely normal (and human!) to experience sadness and grief in our lifetimes, pervasive depression that inhibits your ability to function clearly is not. It can be triggered by hormonal changes (postpartum), stress, major life setbacks, trauma, chemical imbalance (brain chemistry, inherited genetic predisposition), or as the bi-product of or cause for substance misuse). Depression of any kind is a condition that requires attention. More importantly, it is something that can and should be treated. Cited as one of the most common mental health disorders in the US, depression is indiscriminate when it comes to its targets. It affects people of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, races, and genders. It can strike suddenly or quietly creep up on you. While the onset/diagnosis of depression tends to occur in early adulthood, it can be experienced at any age and be ongoing or recurring. Left untreated, it can worsen and have adverse effects on your life, work, and relationships, self-esteem, sense of purpose and pose serious long-term health risks (obesity, diabetes, pain) and consequences, including self-harm.

Depression is treatable.

The many forms of depression include Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Postpartum Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), among others. Any one of these (or any other form of Depression) combined with a substance misuse disorder is classified and diagnosed as a Co-Occurring Disorder or Dual Diagnosis. In the field of addiction, it is crucial to have a proper professional diagnosis so that treatment protocols are put in place to address the complex variables that are specific to Dual Diagnosis, which is treated entirely differently than an isolated diagnosis of depression or substance misuse. A family history of depression, suicide, alcohol abuse (or other substance), bipolar or other mental health issues may increase the chance of depression as well as the propensity for substance misuse, which may then lead to a Dual Diagnosis. No longer stigmatized, mental health and depressive disorders are now treated proactively. Because depression can affect brain chemistry, it is generally treated with a combination of medicine and therapies. A mental health specialist will determine the diagnosis and, depending on the type of depression, long-term (and even lifetime) medication may be necessary to keep the brain chemically balanced. Lifestyle changes (such as exercise and improved diet) are also highly encouraged to benefit mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Speaking with a trusted therapist to work through feelings and emotions is an equally important component to mental health and is particularly effective when navigating the road to wellness. There are numerous resources available (Depression information) that go into greater detail about the various forms of depression, their symptoms, and treatments. Our focus here will be on the following: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Depression with Addiction (Co-Occurring/Dual Diagnosis), and DDNOS (Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) because of their prevalence within the substance misuse community at large.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is also referred to as depression or clinical depression. It has a profound impact on the quality of life because it affects so many aspects of it. It can be responsible for too much (or not enough) eating or sleep, a paralytic inability to function normally at work or deal with family dynamics and relationships, and can cause tremendous withdrawal, subdued behavior, pessimism, and general lethargy. Loss of focus and lack of interest in almost any activity is not uncommon among those who suffer from its debilitating effects. It is a mental health disorder and, contrary to popular (old) belief, it’s not something one can “just snap out of”. The causes of MDD can be episodic (trauma, dramatic life event) or predisposed (family history). The risk of symptoms surfacing may even result from prescribed medications. Regardless of why one exhibits it, for a clinical diagnosis of MDD to be made, the individual must experience at least five of the following symptoms in a two-week (14-day) period and at least one of them must include a depressed mood or reduced pleasure/interest:
  • Changes in sleep (too much or too little)
  • Depressed mood (in children, adolescents, and young adults this may manifest in persistent irritability)
  • General lethargy (lack of energy)
  • Unintentional, significant weight loss or gain, increased or decreased appetite
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate/excessive guilt
  • Difficulty making decisions or concentrating/focusing
  • Decreased interest in most or all activities or inability to feel pleasure in most/all activities (anhedonia).
  • Recurring thoughts of suicide or death and/or suicide attempts/plans
  • Impaired psychomotor skills/coordination (Learn more)
The leading cause of disability in Americans between the ages of 15-44 is Depression. According to a 2017 survey, more than 17 million individuals (adults) reported experiencing at least one major episode of depression in the previous year alone. One-sixth of the U.S. population will experience some form of depression in their lives, according to the American Psychiatric Association and the incidence in women is historically higher than in men. While men will exhibit symptoms that are externalized (in the form of substance abuse or reckless behavior), women tend to internalize feelings of sadness or guilt. MDD is treated with various forms of therapy that include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Family and/or Personal Therapy as well as medication and lifestyle changes. At 1 Method, we are on the cutting edge of treatment and our approach to it is 1-on-1 ). We don’t treat diseases, disorders or illnesses. We treat individuals who happen to have them. Learn more about our treatment approach here.

Depression and Addiction

A depressive disorder like MDD often goes hand in hand with Substance Misuse (or SUD – Substance Use Disorder). Whether it’s anxiety and alcohol abuse or a mood disorder and drugs, when the two happen one after the other (or as the result of one another), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines this as a comorbidity in individuals. The heavy use of alcohol or opioids has been associated with severe depression and the vicious circle of feeling one and feeding the other leads to more severe depression. The combination of an individual with mental illness who is simultaneously using drugs and/or alcohol to combat the effects of the first problem results in what is known as a Co-occurring Disorder (or Dual Diagnosis). The most effective tool for results-oriented treatment is Integrative Care. It includes psychiatry, behavioral therapy, holistic treatments, and medication (if necessary) and is essential for a successful outcome. Having a multidisciplinary team that treats all your conditions at the same time is one of the many things that sets 1 Method Center apart from other treatment centers. A personalized treatment plan that is designed and developed specifically for you will deliver the results you need to thrive in your own life so treatment can be a part of your past and not your future. We believe that individual problems need to be treated in individual ways. Working together with you 1-on-1, we help you find your way back to your future. Learn about the 1 Method difference here. Depression in all its forms is treatable yet many people still fail to seek help. If you are feeling depressed, help is within reach. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or dial 911.

Additional Resources:

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness features listings of local programs and support groups as well as a helpline.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator allows users to search for treatment options in their area. SAMHSA also has a 24-hour helpline to provide treatment referrals and information about mental health and substance use disorders at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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Cassidy Cousens
Cassidy Cousens

Cassidy Cousens is the founder of 1 Method Center. He’s worked in behavioral health treatment for over 20 years. Cassidy specializes in the Integrated Model of Care and is widely viewed as an expert in behavioral health. To talk with Cassidy call 1-310-254-9479.