Reinforcing positive behaviours and building new skills are essential for anyone struggling with depression. That’s why many people find that rehab can be an effective treatment for depression.
In rehab, you’ll work with a team of mental health professionals who will help you to identify the thoughts and behaviours that are keeping you stuck in a cycle of depression. You’ll then learn new ways of thinking and behaving that can help you to break free from the cycle.
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According to charity The Mental Health Foundation, depression is the most common mental health problem around the globe. In the UK, nearly a fifth (19.7%) of people in the UK aged 16 and over showed symptoms of anxiety or depression. There are a number of approaches to treating depression, but perhaps one of the most overlooked is rehab. Most people probably think of addiction and substance misuse when they think of rehab, but rehabilitation can mean any programme of recovery after a debilitating accident or illness – or a return to a normal and productive life after prison.
Many rehabs successfully treat a range of mental health issues, from depression and anxiety to PTSD and eating disorders. There is also a well-documented link between mental health, substance misuse and addiction, and there is often a complex relationship at play between these different elements. Where mental health issues and addictions co-exist in the same person at the same time, this is often known as dual diagnosis.
What is Depression?
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It can cause feelings of sadness along with a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed and symptoms like fatigue and lack of energy. It can also lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.2
Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and could include:
- Feelings of sadness; depressed mood
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Changes to sleeping patterns – sleeping too much or insomnia
- Lack of energy, fatigue, listlessness
- Difficulty in thinking, concentrating and making decisions
- Changes in appetite that may be accompanied by weight loss or gain
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
What Causes Depression?
According to the NHS, there is no single cause for depression. For some people, important life events like bereavement, divorce, illness or money issues can trigger depression. Many people experience multiple triggers that combine to cause depression and some talk about a ‘downward spiral’ of events. Some people seem more prone to depression than others and there may be genetic factors involved, with a history of depression in the family being an indicator of increased risk.3
Other potential causes of depression include becoming a parent (postnatal depression), suffering a head injury and the misuse of drugs and alcohol. The NHS says there is evidence that cannabis use can bring on depression, for example, while drinking alters your brain chemistry and can also increase the risk of depression.
Addiction and Depression
Research as well as experience have shown that there is a definite link between addiction and depression. One study found that nearly two-thirds (63.8%) of people with an alcohol dependency were also suffering from clinical depression.4 As mentioned though, there can be complex relationships between these factors. In some cases, substance misuse can trigger or exacerbate a mental health condition like anxiety or depression; in others a pre-existing case of depression can lead an individual to attempt to ‘self-medicate’ with drugs or alcohol, potentially leading to addiction and making the depression even worse.
How Can Rehab Help?
Some common methods used to combat depression include medication, therapy and support groups. It may also be possible to attend a residential rehab that specialises in mental health treatments – often alongside treatments for substance misuse and addiction.
In one of these facilities you will be in a safe, secure and tranquil environment. This cannot remove stresses from your life entirely but it can help to reduce them, allowing you to focus on your recovery. You will have access to the finest care from trained mental health professionals and will take part in a tailored treatment programme designed for your own unique circumstances and needs. This will typically incorporate a range of psychological therapies and may also include prescription anti-depressants and other relevant medications.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Perhaps more common when it comes to treating depression in a rehab setting is dual diagnosis, where a mental health condition such as depression co-exists with an addiction. This is also sometimes referred to as dual disorder or co-morbidity. Sometimes people enter rehab with a diagnosis of both conditions but often, the mental health condition is found – or at least diagnosed – during the addiction treatment programme. The co-existence of mental health conditions and addictions is very common.
NICE says that the interplay between substance misuse and mental illness is complex and
can change over time. It can vary between individuals and it may depend on the type of mental health problem and on the type and amount of substance misused.5
It adds that some people may experience:
- A mental illness that has led to substance misuse
- A substance misuse problem that has led to a mental illness
- An unrelated mental illness and a substance misuse problem that interact with and exacerbate each other.
Dual diagnosis treatment involves treating both elements at the same time. This is important because leaving either side untreated could store up problems for the future; an untreated substance misuse problem could trigger a reoccurrence of the mental health issue while an untreated mental health problem like depression could lead to a relapse.
Dual diagnosis will often incorporate a medically supervised detox, where the person ‘cleans out’ their system of the drugs or alcohol already present. This provides a solid base on which to work on mental health and the root causes of the substance misuse issues through therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and one to one counselling. Prescription medication may also be used to treat the depression and, in a rehab setting, well-being therapies like mindfulness, meditation, relaxation and sleep therapies can all be used to promote overall well-being of the body and mind.
If you are struggling with addiction, mental health issues like depression or a combination of both, contact us today to find out how we can help.