Coping With Ongoing Depression or Anxiety in Recovery

Reviewed May 12, 2017

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Summary

  • Give your treatment your all.
  • Seek any additional help or support you need.
  • Find thanks for the little joys and victories in your life.

Tom’s story

Tom has been smoking marijuana for seven years and drinking too much for 10. His hangover turns to depression by early afternoon. As the day wears on he becomes very worried about the future, his family, money, etc. By late afternoon he gets high. Most nights he drinks until he goes to bed. He often feels sad and anxious.

In your opinion, is Tom experiencing depression, anxiety, addiction, or all of the above? If you guessed all of the above, you’re right.

Tom talked with his doctor and entered a local treatment program. Although he is no longer drinking or using drugs he still worries and feels sad. After a few months, his doctor recognized the signs and prescribed meds. After a few weeks Tom was feeling much better.

Tom’s story is common. Depression and anxiety often go unnoticed. There are two reasons for this. Mood swings are common symptoms of addiction. It is also thought that once a person quits using drugs or alcohol he will “snap out of it.” This is simply not true. About 30 percent to 40 percent of people with a substance use disorder also have depression or anxiety.

Many ask which comes first. We don’t know. The important thing is to not ignore the symptoms. Depression and anxiety can lead to relapse when untreated. Why? People who feel depressed and anxious return to drugs or alcohol to feel better.

How can I tell if I am depressed of anxious?

Signs of anxiety include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Feeling panicky
  • Easily irritated

Signs of depression include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Isolation from family

What to do

Early recovery may not be fast or easy. But recovery happens every day for many people just like you. Give it time to work for you. It took time to get where you are. It will take time to recover. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and believe the process can work. Anxiety and depression can cause relapse. Addiction causes many family and personal problems. People who also have depression and anxiety can feel much worse. Talk with your doctor about it. If you feel depressed or anxious he may give you meds and suggest counseling. Remember that there are no quick fixes. It takes time.

Good recovery includes joy and renewing meaning in life. It means taking responsibility for your actions, and knowing that those poor decisions don’t have to continue. It also means total commitment to getting better. Here are some tips.

  • Give your treatment your all. A half-hearted approach will result in less than successful recovery.
  • Learn all you can about your illness.
  • If you are having problems with meds, talk with your doctor about it.
  • Become disciplined about your recovery. Keep all appointments, attend 12-step and/or other recovery support meetings, and make lifestyle changes.
  • Seek any additional help or support you need.
  • Work on rebuilding important relationships.
  • Find thanks for the little joys and victories in your life.
By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Source: Regier DA, Farmer ME, Rae DS, et al. (1990) “Comorbidity of mental disorders with alcohol and other drug abuse: Results from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study,” JAMA, 264:2511-2518; Brown RA, Evans DM, Miller IW, et al. (1997) “Cognitive-behavioral treatment for depression in alcoholism,” J Consult Clin Psychol, 65:715-726.
Reviewed by Trenda Hedges, BS, CRSS, Recovery Team Manager, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Give your treatment your all.
  • Seek any additional help or support you need.
  • Find thanks for the little joys and victories in your life.

Tom’s story

Tom has been smoking marijuana for seven years and drinking too much for 10. His hangover turns to depression by early afternoon. As the day wears on he becomes very worried about the future, his family, money, etc. By late afternoon he gets high. Most nights he drinks until he goes to bed. He often feels sad and anxious.

In your opinion, is Tom experiencing depression, anxiety, addiction, or all of the above? If you guessed all of the above, you’re right.

Tom talked with his doctor and entered a local treatment program. Although he is no longer drinking or using drugs he still worries and feels sad. After a few months, his doctor recognized the signs and prescribed meds. After a few weeks Tom was feeling much better.

Tom’s story is common. Depression and anxiety often go unnoticed. There are two reasons for this. Mood swings are common symptoms of addiction. It is also thought that once a person quits using drugs or alcohol he will “snap out of it.” This is simply not true. About 30 percent to 40 percent of people with a substance use disorder also have depression or anxiety.

Many ask which comes first. We don’t know. The important thing is to not ignore the symptoms. Depression and anxiety can lead to relapse when untreated. Why? People who feel depressed and anxious return to drugs or alcohol to feel better.

How can I tell if I am depressed of anxious?

Signs of anxiety include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Feeling panicky
  • Easily irritated

Signs of depression include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Isolation from family

What to do

Early recovery may not be fast or easy. But recovery happens every day for many people just like you. Give it time to work for you. It took time to get where you are. It will take time to recover. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and believe the process can work. Anxiety and depression can cause relapse. Addiction causes many family and personal problems. People who also have depression and anxiety can feel much worse. Talk with your doctor about it. If you feel depressed or anxious he may give you meds and suggest counseling. Remember that there are no quick fixes. It takes time.

Good recovery includes joy and renewing meaning in life. It means taking responsibility for your actions, and knowing that those poor decisions don’t have to continue. It also means total commitment to getting better. Here are some tips.

  • Give your treatment your all. A half-hearted approach will result in less than successful recovery.
  • Learn all you can about your illness.
  • If you are having problems with meds, talk with your doctor about it.
  • Become disciplined about your recovery. Keep all appointments, attend 12-step and/or other recovery support meetings, and make lifestyle changes.
  • Seek any additional help or support you need.
  • Work on rebuilding important relationships.
  • Find thanks for the little joys and victories in your life.
By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Source: Regier DA, Farmer ME, Rae DS, et al. (1990) “Comorbidity of mental disorders with alcohol and other drug abuse: Results from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study,” JAMA, 264:2511-2518; Brown RA, Evans DM, Miller IW, et al. (1997) “Cognitive-behavioral treatment for depression in alcoholism,” J Consult Clin Psychol, 65:715-726.
Reviewed by Trenda Hedges, BS, CRSS, Recovery Team Manager, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Give your treatment your all.
  • Seek any additional help or support you need.
  • Find thanks for the little joys and victories in your life.

Tom’s story

Tom has been smoking marijuana for seven years and drinking too much for 10. His hangover turns to depression by early afternoon. As the day wears on he becomes very worried about the future, his family, money, etc. By late afternoon he gets high. Most nights he drinks until he goes to bed. He often feels sad and anxious.

In your opinion, is Tom experiencing depression, anxiety, addiction, or all of the above? If you guessed all of the above, you’re right.

Tom talked with his doctor and entered a local treatment program. Although he is no longer drinking or using drugs he still worries and feels sad. After a few months, his doctor recognized the signs and prescribed meds. After a few weeks Tom was feeling much better.

Tom’s story is common. Depression and anxiety often go unnoticed. There are two reasons for this. Mood swings are common symptoms of addiction. It is also thought that once a person quits using drugs or alcohol he will “snap out of it.” This is simply not true. About 30 percent to 40 percent of people with a substance use disorder also have depression or anxiety.

Many ask which comes first. We don’t know. The important thing is to not ignore the symptoms. Depression and anxiety can lead to relapse when untreated. Why? People who feel depressed and anxious return to drugs or alcohol to feel better.

How can I tell if I am depressed of anxious?

Signs of anxiety include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Feeling panicky
  • Easily irritated

Signs of depression include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Isolation from family

What to do

Early recovery may not be fast or easy. But recovery happens every day for many people just like you. Give it time to work for you. It took time to get where you are. It will take time to recover. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and believe the process can work. Anxiety and depression can cause relapse. Addiction causes many family and personal problems. People who also have depression and anxiety can feel much worse. Talk with your doctor about it. If you feel depressed or anxious he may give you meds and suggest counseling. Remember that there are no quick fixes. It takes time.

Good recovery includes joy and renewing meaning in life. It means taking responsibility for your actions, and knowing that those poor decisions don’t have to continue. It also means total commitment to getting better. Here are some tips.

  • Give your treatment your all. A half-hearted approach will result in less than successful recovery.
  • Learn all you can about your illness.
  • If you are having problems with meds, talk with your doctor about it.
  • Become disciplined about your recovery. Keep all appointments, attend 12-step and/or other recovery support meetings, and make lifestyle changes.
  • Seek any additional help or support you need.
  • Work on rebuilding important relationships.
  • Find thanks for the little joys and victories in your life.
By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Source: Regier DA, Farmer ME, Rae DS, et al. (1990) “Comorbidity of mental disorders with alcohol and other drug abuse: Results from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study,” JAMA, 264:2511-2518; Brown RA, Evans DM, Miller IW, et al. (1997) “Cognitive-behavioral treatment for depression in alcoholism,” J Consult Clin Psychol, 65:715-726.
Reviewed by Trenda Hedges, BS, CRSS, Recovery Team Manager, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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