Depression affects your state of mind and your ability to perform everyday functions such as eating, sleeping, and working. The biological makeup of a woman makes her twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than a man. Depression can lead to substance abuse which is used as a coping mechanism.
New Directions for Women is a facility that focuses on supporting you as you work to overcome challenges with addiction and depression. We provide a single-sex environment that encourages many forms of shared support. Our environment is one that promotes healing with many treatment options that lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Defining and Understanding Depression
Depression is defined as a state of low mood and aversion to activity. Depression affects millions of people in various ways. Many people feel that depression is nothing more than a temporary “low” or mood that can be controlled. In fact, it’s a mental illness that researchers feel is prompted by a person’s overall biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological composition.
Depression is a disorder that is treatable with medication and therapy. Antidepressant medications take time to adjust before making a noticeable difference in a person’s mood and appearance. Patience and time are important tools to keep in mind. Therapy options for those diagnosed with clinical depression are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Interpersonal Therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
What Are Signs of Depression?
Typically viewed as an emotional illness, depression can also affect you in physical ways. Headaches, stomach pains, or digestive issues are a few examples. Dealing with these physical ailments over long periods of time can prompt a feeling of helplessness and frustration. A vicious circle of physical and mental battles is the result.
Outward signs of depression can include:
- Thoughts of suicide or death
- Feeling unworthy
- Feelings of guilt
- Problems concentrating
- General irritability
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Lack of sleep or sleeping too much
- Lack of participation in everyday life events
- A decrease in energy
Depression can be linked to many other health issues in women. Diseases include obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Studies show that obese women are more likely to become depressed than men. Women who are diagnosed with heart disease are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression. And one in four people battling cancer becomes depressed.
What Are the Types of Depressive Disorders?
A person experiencing depression feels an overwhelming lack of self-worth. This is a much different emotional state from someone who is sad due to a life event such as a death or a broken relationship. If feelings of no to low self-worth last for more than two weeks, it’s time to get medical advice.
Depression is also known as a major depressive disorder. Types of depressive disorders include:
- Persistent Depressive Disorder: A diagnosis of persistent depressive disorder occurs when a person has symptoms of depression for over two years.
- Bipolar Disorder: This is also known as manic depression. Symptoms include extreme mood swings and risky behavior.
- Psychotic Depression: People with psychosis experience extreme delusions, hallucinations, and a break with reality. They also may hear voices.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Someone suffering from seasonal affective disorder has symptoms of depression during the fall and winter months. Symptoms of psychotic depression include hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.
- Postpartum Depression: Postpartum depression occurs in some women after they give birth. Their emotions cause them to neglect their children and inadequately care for them.
Treatment for Depression
The main types of treatment for depression and depressive disorders include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
- Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (RTMS)
Why Are Women So Susceptible to Depression?
Depression is more common among women than men. This may be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological ingredients.
Depression in women is not caused by a single event or reason. There are many factors that can play into it. Factors such as:
- The chemical makeup of the brain. The part of the brain that controls moods, thoughts, and sleep may not be balanced.
- Stress over life events such as death, unhealthy relationships, financial strain
- Hormone levels in some women that are unbalanced or changing
- Family history
- Pain from health issues that linger over long periods of time
Some hormonal contributors may include:
- Puberty can create internal and external conflicts. Hormone levels are fluctuating during this time of a young woman’s life.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) causes headaches, bloating, headaches, anxiety, joint, and muscle pain.
- Pregnancy creates huge hormonal changes that affect moods.
- Postpartum depression is also known as the “baby blues.” This is a serious hormonal imbalance that can lead to depression.
- Perimenopause and Menopause are another time in a woman’s life when hormone levels are unsteady.
Depression Specific to Women
Depression in women is not age-specific; however, the types of depression that are particular to women can be related to hormonal changes. These changes have common denominators that create mood swings and feelings of irritability. There is a reason for concern when the symptoms do not decrease over a short period of time.
Some types of depression that are specific to women are:
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Depression (PMDD) is a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Perinatal Depression includes depression that begins before the birth of a child (prenatal depression) and continues after the child is born (postpartum depression).
- Perimenopausal Depression occurs when menopause begins.
All these types of depression have symptoms of extreme mood swings, abnormal anxiety levels, and a complete disconnect from the world. It’s important to seek treatment. New Directions for Women can provide you the care that you and your family are seeking. Our treatment programs focus on an approach for healing that lasts for the long term.
Can Depression Lead to Addiction?
For a woman who is battling a combination of addiction and depression, it’s hard to determine which disorder came first in many situations. The term for this is called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. Dual diagnoses that include a form of clinical depression are common.
People who suffer from depression sometimes self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol. Alcohol is also a depressant which makes the depressive disorder symptoms escalate. It’s as though you’re feeding fire with fire.
Studies show that 1 in 3 adults who suffer from alcohol or drug abuse also suffer from depression. In cases where alcohol is the drug of choice for women, it’s hard to diagnose whether it is alcoholism or an actual depressive disorder causing their depression. If opioids are the drug of choice, they can cause a higher risk of the user becoming more susceptible to a depressive disorder.
Treatment for Addiction and Depression
Depression is a disease that requires treatment so that symptoms can lessen or disappear. They will not go away on their own. Substance abuse is a disease that also requires specific treatment specific to the type of substance. If you are suffering from both depression and substance abuse it is important to receive treatment for both at the same time. The chance of a successful, effective treatment increases when a dual diagnosis is determined.
If clinical depression isn’t treated — and it’s what is prompting your addiction to drugs or alcohol — then there’s no hope in the symptoms lessening or disappearing. The same is true if you have an addiction to drugs or alcohol and it being the trigger for your depression. Treatment is key to having a productive and happy future.
Treatment for dual diagnosis needs to cover the psychiatric issues as well as alcohol or drug addiction. Addiction and depression treatment needs to include:
- Peer support
- Relapse prevention
Medication therapy is necessary and aids in the treatment of the symptoms of depressive disorder. Other support from peer group therapy and family therapy as well as individual therapy sessions are also important. Women who are battling dual diagnosis respond better with gender-specific treatment.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the goals of treatment for dual diagnosis include:
- Helping you understand the cause of your depression
- Teaching you that recovery from depression and drug or alcohol addiction is possible
- Motivating you to make changes to improve your life
- Supplying you with the skills to handle negative thoughts
- Assisting you in identifying and changing your patterns of addictive behavior
Where to Turn for Help for Treatment of Addiction and Depression
New Directions for Women is a facility that can provide the stepping stones to treatment for your addiction and depression. We are committed to helping you and your family through the stages of diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. Our campus is built around a belief that family comes first and we provide a gender-specific, stress-free environment that promotes these beliefs.
Our staff at New Directions for Women are ready to talk to you or your loved one about the details of our programs. Contact us today for information about how to begin a new life in which you can look forward to a bright, happy future full of promise. We look forward to helping you start on this new path where addiction and depression are no longer part of your life!