Addictions and depression, health and wellness, Treatment for depression

Addiction and depression: often diagnosed together

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In my city, like many cities in North America, the opioid crisis is affecting many people and taking many lives. I haven’t lived here for long, but it seems all types of people are suffering because of drug addiction. I just learned today of a person passing away from mixing cocaine and fentanyl; she was young and now she is gone. I didn’t know her, but I feel for her and her family.

It is known that depression and drug addictions go hand in hand for a lot of people. Often, people who are addicted have turned to drugs to relieve stress, trauma and were recreational drug users. The crisis isn’t only occurring in adults; adolescents are turning to drugs to self-medicate when they experience the symptoms of depression.
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If you would like an in-depth study, you can take a free course on Edx, courtesy of Harvard University. I have taken it and it is well worth studying to know more about drug addiction and how to treat people with an addiction to opioids. It is highly recommended.

Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate, all socioeconomic classes are affected ranging from homeless people to doctors and teenagers addicted to prescription medicine. How much is too much in a prescription? There is debate going on now about restricting the use of opioids to treat pain because of the high potential for addictions to start by their use.

It is estimated that in the United States, over 1,000 people are treated daily in the country’s emergency departments for incorrect administration of an opioid based drug.

The effects of the dual-diagnosis of addiction and depression

Studies show that women suffer from depression first and men suffer with a drug addiction first. Many feel hopeless and lost and turn to the drugs to feel better, yet they feel worse in the end. A study conducted by the National Institute on Health found that one-third of people suffering from the mood disorder had struggled with an addiction. Men who were addicted to alcohol were diagnoses three times as much as the general population.

Children of people who are addicted are at risk of developing the same addictions; they are also at a higher risk for developing a mood disorder. In an article written by Dennis C. Daley, Ph.D, he sums up the effects of addictions and depression on a family:

“clients with addiction and depression are at higher risk for suicidal and homicidal behaviors, poorer treatment adherence, higher relapse rates to either disorder, and higher re-hospitalization rates (Cornelius et al, 1997; Salloum et al, 1996; Daley & Zuckoff, 1998 & 1999).”

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Not only does an addiction and mood disorder affect a family, it affects the local community as well. People who are untreated may not be able to show up to work, school or important events. Locally, the prison has been under investigation involving eight prisoners who died from an overdose. Medical personnel were questioned, and one nurse agreed that communication when an overdose occurs needs improvement. It was said that the problems in the community are now in the jail.

Of course, when news spreads of an overdose in a community it can frighten people and sadden people when it has lead to death. It is important to realize the seriousness of mental illness and drug addiction in combination with one another.

Help for people with concurrent diagnoses

Some people have difficulty finding the help they need for recovery because some institutions or places of help demand that a person be free from drug addiction before they can receive treatment. Having depression and a drug addiction can be difficult to be treated separately because they both affect each other. It seems like double the pain for addicts and persons with a mood disorder. The symptoms of both can be debilitating and the worst consequences of each is death from the condition.

More public awareness is helping to educate people about depression and addiction. There are conversations occurring world wide on how to view addictions. Some people may be afraid to ask for help because illicit drugs are illegal, but some cities are providing immunity in certain cases where drugs are found on the scene of a medical emergency. It is called the Good Samaritan law.

Good self-care can help tremendously as well. Some tips from Psychology Today include:

  • Get some sunshine
  • Exercise
  • Make attainable goals
  • Stand up and ground yourself
  • Get help from a professional

Using illicit drugs and alcohol can make depression worse even though the person may feel the drugs will make them feel better; it is a dangerous combination that left untreated can lead to serious consequences. Alcohol is a depressant that also impairs good judgment; being intoxicating increases the risk of a suicide attempt.

When seeking help from professionals, it is best to ask if they are qualified to help in both areas of addictions and depression. It is important that they both be treated at the same time.

If you are in need of help for suicidal thoughts please visit where you can find the resources such as hotline numbers to help with your crisis.

Would you like someone to talk to for free? Visit 7 Cups to talk to an active listener and you can be referred to a therapist if needed.

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health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

Depression: Focus on what you CAN do and not on what you can’t

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Today, I woke up at 5:00 pm. I have never slept this late before, but in all fairness, I was up until dawn as a listener on 7 Cups. I have to say this is not me at my ultimate best, but it is out of my control sometimes when I cannot sleep. I kind of dread being awake now in the midnight hours, but I put my time to good use listening to those who need a kind and compassionate ear.

I sometimes let what I cannot do affect my self-esteem and I think I have reached a point where I have had enough; I am fed up with feeling not good enough. It is time to appreciate what I can do rather than what I can’t do. It is disappointing to not be able to do the things I would like because of suffering from major depressive disorder but I must continually adjust and adapt to each day not knowing what to expect.

Two of the people I listened two left ratings and I now have 5 out of 5 stars. I like to excel at what I do and sometimes the depression makes me feel inadequate on the days where it is even difficult to get out of bed. A frustrating battle of thoughts ensues, and I need to show the same compassion to myself that I show to others experiencing debilitating symptoms of depression.

Too much time has been spent in disappointment about what I cannot do now. What does this mean? It means I carry around shame and a feeling of disgrace because I am not functioning like healthier people can. I know I have tried my best on the road to recovery and must keep this in mind.

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Suffering from depression is not my fault and I must keep this in mind. It is unfortunate, but something that is manageable though there have been days when it has felt grueling to face the day. I’m not sure what to say when people ask what I do. I have found writing work at home, but some people don’t consider this to be a real job; I have also tried my hand at selling crafts online, but I could not keep up with what my mind had planned for the small business. It is time for some motivation!

Motivation for easing the self-doubt from depression

What is motivation? Why does it seem to work better on some days? I’m not sure. Not all of what is intended to be good advice or motivation is helpful, sometimes it can feel harmful due to expectations to kind of just snap out of the depression at will. Of course, it is better to think positively but the illness cannot be battled alone with positive thoughts. What kind of motivation is helpful? How can I include radical acceptance? What does this mean for me and most likely others? I need to accept myself at my best when the symptoms aren’t as debilitating, and at my worst. There is no need for self condemnation for being a person with depression. It runs in my family and why should I expect to be any different?

I have been learning mindfulness techniques lately; spending time in the past and worrying about the future is overwhelming. Of course, I appreciate good memories, but having depression has tempted me to ruminate over the negative and relive the pain every time I think of a painful experience.

Am I doing something that makes my depression worse? Yes. The non-stop critical thoughts are painful and sometimes it takes me a while to snap out of it and stop the negative thoughts. I hate struggling, it is wearisome. It is counterproductive when I really am trying hard to feel my best.

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Today’s motivation is the thought that I am working hard to be the best that I can. It’s okay to be me and it doesn’t matter if someone else wants to judge me harshly for having a mental illness. I have worked hard to be self-sufficient and strong; although I haven’t gotten to where I want to go in the way I thought I would get there, I am convinced that I will get there eventually even if it doesn’t look like I thought it would. Trying to act healthy when I need to be treated for depression doesn’t work, it doesn’t make me function any better.

Some days I have lost track of my goals and because of my fatigue it feels like I will never accomplish them and then I will l have days when I am full of energy and in control and well on my way to accomplishing the steps necessary reach my set goal. I feel best when life feels exciting; it can be difficult to remember that the weighing despair is not permanent though it feels like it will never go away.

It is hard to describe to others out of embarrassment and the need to be accepted as being a regular human being without prejudice and dislike. I have confided to a few people that I have depression, and some seem okay with it though they don’t know too much about it. I have to say I have accomplished my goals though I have had to adapt around the depression and have been set back by the symptoms and trying to find the right medication that makes me feel better. I am a writer and have had the opportunity to be paid for writing about issues that I learned in college. Listening on 7 Cups is a community service worker activity. So, my hard work did pay off, I am doing what I went to school for even though it isn’t where I thought it would be. I can do it even thought I am not moving as quickly as I hoped I would.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

— John Wooden

health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

How to know when you should see a doctor for depression

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The symptoms of depression can start off subtly and if they last for longer than two weeks you would be wise to see a doctor. It can be tempting to think that the symptoms will go away on their own, but this may lead to a worsening of the symptoms you are experiencing. If you had a broken arm you would go to the doctor, right? The same is true for depression even though it is an invisible illness. It is the leading cause of disability in the world and should be taken seriously.

You may not want to go to see a physician for several reasons including facing rejection from others because of the stigma with mental illness, you feel it isn’t that serious, and maybe you are feeling to tired and unmotivated to go. The longer you wait for help, the longer it will take for you to feel better. You are the best judge of what kind of therapy is best for you; the doctor can recommend treatments that work well alone or together for your ultimate well-being.

To do an online check of your possible depression symptoms click on the image below.

Symptoms to look for before seeing a doctor

There are a few types of depression but many of the symptoms are the same. To start if you just aren’t feeling quite like your normal self it may be a clue that it is time to see a doctor. Depression is despair, overwhelming tiredness, irritability and sleep disturbances. These are a few of the obvious symptoms that debilitate and cause a person to be confused.

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It is confusing to be used to functioning and then be rendered incapable of even the simplest tasks. You may try harder yet feel like a failure. You may try to think positively which is good, but it won’t cure the depression. It is a daily battle and at its worst can lead to suicide. Yes, it is a serious condition.


  • Fatigue
  • Over or under eating
  • anger
  • Lack of interest in once enjoyable activities
  • insomnia
  • Oversleeping
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • hopelessness
  • helplessness
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Feelings of despair
  • Body feels heavy
  • Movements are slower
  • Negative thinking
  • Isolating oneself

You may feel some or all these symptoms in varying intensities. There is help in dealing with these symptoms usually in the form of a combination of talk therapy and drug therapy. It may be hard to admit at first that what you are possibly experiencing is depression, but once you get a diagnosis from your doctor you’ll understand that it is real, serious and treatable.

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health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends

How to handle discrimination against depression

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The pain of discrimination and stigmas

Being discriminated against based on an attribute you possess is painful and humiliating. People discriminate against colour, age, race, socioeconomic status and people with disabilities. Some people view a person with a mental health issue with disregard and lack of respect. The problem is not with the person with the mental illness, rather it is with the person who is discriminating.

The pain of depression is difficult to bear without being discriminated against. Fortunately, there are many people who are understanding and take great offence at the mistreatment of others. There are many stereotypes about people diagnosed with depression and it is important to get the facts straight.

What is discrimination? What is a stigma?

Discrimination is an action towards another that excludes, isolates and judges and is meant to cause harm to the target person. In many countries it is against the charter of human rights or equivalent law to mistreat people based on personal biases. Discrimination is faced by many:

  • In the workplace
  • In school
  • Public institutions

It is somewhat surprising that so many people continue to discriminate when much progress has been made for the fair treatment of all by different groups of people whose message is the same; it is wrong to discriminate.

A stigma is similar and leads to negative actions towards a person based on stereotypes, that is a one size fits all character description, based on erroneous information. People with depression suffer from the stigma attached to it. In general, because of negative exposure in the media, the term mental illness is sometimes used when someone commits a crime. The vast majority of people who have a mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violent crime rather than be the perpetrator.

Yes, mental illness can be scary but so much more for the sufferer than anyone else. It is not a character flaw or a lack of good morals that cause someone to have a mental illness. It is the same as any other illness and people should be honoured for the strength it takes to make it day to day when suffering from an episode of major depressive disorder.

How to handle being discriminated against

It takes courage to defend against the hurtful actions of others and while it may be tempting to retaliate, it is best to be the bigger person and not make the situation worse. Insult for insult will not accomplish any good. There are sayings akin to retaliating with kindness and sometimes this will shame the other person for being so rude. Some people however will seemingly never change their ways, so it is best to avoid them if you can.

If you are discriminated against at work, you may have legal rights to protect you from any further harm. Make sure before you make a complaint that there isn’t a valid reason for the behaviour of your superior or coworkers. E.g. not getting a promotion. Was the decision made with prejudice?

In many countries the person filing the complaint should not fear retaliation for speaking up for themselves because they are legally protected by company policies. You may be able to make a complaint against a person without them knowing about it.

It is up to you to use your best judgement when responding to ignorance. Yes, it is hurtful, but remember it is ignorance on the part of the other person who is discriminating, and it is not your fault. You may not be able to change someone from mistreating you, but you can hold your head up high and not carry the shame and disgrace that was attempted to be put on you.

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health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

Antidepressants: Can they all be considered medicine?

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What is medicine?

Definition of medicine

1 a : a substance or preparation used in treating disease

  • cough medicine

    b : something that affects well-being

  • he’s bad medicine
  • —Zane Grey

    2 a : the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease

  • She’s interested in a career in medicine.

    b : the branch of medicine concerned with the nonsurgical treatment of disease

    3 : a substance (such as a drug or potion) used to treat something other than disease

    4 : an object held in traditional American Indian belief to give control over natural or magical forces; also : magical power or a magical rite

    “Medicine.”, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.

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    I respect the practice of medicine, as a matter of fact, I have considered a career in medicine since I was a child. It is my desire to make helping people a number one priority. Having said this. There are some areas and treatments used in medicine that I find to be confusing and downright harmful. Antidepressants affect me personally as I use them for treatment of depression. I trust my doctor and I believe the doctor is acting on training that she has received. There have been a few antidepressants prescribed to me that had ill effects that were so uncomfortable that I had to stop taking them. Seemingly a no-brainer to me is that if a drug is to be considered a medicine it shouldn’t cause harm.

    There have been many news articles and controversies surrounding the use of antidepressants. We see that many people who have committed violent crimes were taking antidepressants and many people are concerned about their detrimental effects. Was it the mental illness that caused these horrendous incidents or was it the drugs or a combination of both? I certainly don’t want to be taking a drug that has the potential to make me violent; this has never happened to me, but I have experienced the negative effects of certain drugs that were detrimental to my well being. My thought is that if a medicine causes harm, can it really be considered a medicine? E.g. Antidepressants that increase suicidal tendencies. Isn’t this a no-brainer that these kinds of drugs cannot be considered medicine? Depression causes suicidal thinking; a medicine should not affect a person trying to relieve the symptoms of depression, and certainly not intensify them. To me this is too risky and not worth any benefit(s) that the drug may produce.

    I am not a doctor and I don’t want to dissuade anyone from taking their prescribed drugs, but the last thing I expect from an antidepressant is to make me feel worse. I met a girl recently who had to stop taking the medicine because her anxiety and depression became worse for a few weeks when she started to take them. During my treatments over the past few years, I haven’t found the right combination or one antidepressant that has enabled me to function as I’d like to for more than a few months. Some people experience bouts of depression for a seemingly short time while others like myself suffer intense symptoms that are debilitating for years. Am I suffering for years because of not taking the right antidepressant for me? Why do some people suffer for a short time and others for longer? There isn’t a cure all type of antidepressant that works for everyone; why is this?

    Why don’t antidepressants work for everyone?

    People diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder each have differing intensities of symptoms, some more than others and scientists conclude it is because of a person’s genetics. The danger, says Dr. Marianne Müller is that people suffering intense depressive symptoms including suicidal tendencies don’t have enough time to try to find the right medicine that rids the person of suicidal thinking. Some people may commit suicide even though they are taking medicine for their depression. The presence or lack of transcription factor levels predicted with 76% accuracy how someone will respond to SSRIs (serotonin-selective reuptake inhibitor). This high level of response data is not enough to develop new medicines. It is noted by another doctor not involved in this study, Dr. Victor Reus, that the HPA axis most likely contributes to depression, that is the body’s response to stress. Researchers are looking for genetic differences to explain why different types of antidepressants don’t work well for everybody diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

    It has been estimated that more than half of people prescribed antidepressants don’t feel better after taking them. It has been found that the makers of antidepressant have not made the medicine to get at the more complex causes, instead they have oversimplified the cause and as such the drugs only target these simplified areas. The two main beliefs factored into the making of antidepressants includes difficult life circumstances and an imbalance in neurotransmitters as the causes of major depressive disorder. Depression researcher Eva Redei has found inconclusive evidence that stress contributes to depression, while she notes that the drugs purpose is to relieve stress symptoms. As for the theory that depression is caused by decreased levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine she says that treatments aim at the effects, not the cause. Further research is necessary to determine what the cause is exactly.

    Another finding suggests that reducing the amount of autoreceptors may increase the positive effects of antidepressants. Autoreceptors are responsible for sending messages to the axon terminal deciphering how much of a neurotransmitter has been released. The higher the level of autoreceptors detected, the less effective antidepressants were shown to be.

    An obvious reason that antidepressants won’t work is because of a misdiagnosis. There are questions you should ask before commencing treatment to see if they are right for you:

  1. Is it depression causing pain?
  2. Are you willing to try different treatments for an extended period?
  3. Would antidepressants work best with another therapy such as counselling?
  4. Do you trust your doctor?

Basically, it’s best to realize that treatment may need to be ongoing and a matter of trial and error. Build a trusting relationship with your doctor and communicate about your concerns before taking an antidepressant. Know what to expect and be prepared for trying new medicines to alleviate your pain.

What to do when antidepressants don’t work effectively

If the antidepressants you have been prescribed aren’t helping you may have what is called treatment-resistant depression. It may be mild or severe. If you aren’t already seeing a mental health professional seek one out. They can determine what is contributing to your depressive episode(s) and what can be done about it while excluding other possible causes for your symptoms. Together you may find that you require more time to adjust to the medicine, you may need to increase the dose, or you may need to start taking a different type of antidepressant. This can be a frustrating time waiting for relief from this painful disorder. Reach out and talk about it with your doctor, a counselling phone line or someone you trust to get the support you need to help you through this time.

Other treatments are physical and include electroconvulsive therapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation. In addition, there are other measures you can take to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Live a healthier lifestyle that includes the reduction of alcohol and drugs, eating a more nutritious diet, including exercise into your daily routine, and using stress reduction techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness.

I know from first hand experience about the difficulties faced when antidepressants don’t work. Reaching out to someone to talk about my experience has been helpful, but still caused me great concern when my mood was extremely low with no remedy. Taking pictures of nature was very calming and interesting during daily walks in the spring and summer. It is a frightening experience to suffer from despair and think about suicide daily; many people are speaking up about not having enough resources dedicated to helping people with mental health issues like major depressive disorder. Hopefully, soon enough we will have more options for remedy and relief for our painful symptoms of depression.

Leave a comment. Have you had an experience with antidepressants you want to mention?

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