Most people see depression as black and white – you either have it or you don’t. However, depression can present itself in many different forms, making treatment more complicated. Agitated depression is one form that is often overlooked, but it is just as serious. If it isn’t treated, it can feed into substance abuse cycles and damage long-term well-being.
What is Agitated Depression?
Agitated depression is a type of depression which comes with strong feelings of restlessness and anger. Though it is not a medical term, it is a good description of some people’s symptoms. It usually means a combination of depression and anxiety. Agitation is common in people who deal with major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
So what is the main difference between ‘normal’ depression and agitated depression? Major depression on its own does not usually cause agitated behavior. Typically, there is an additional underlying cause to the agitation, but it can heighten and complicate the depressive feelings.
What is Agitation?
Agitation can have several symptoms:
- Angry outbursts
- Impulsive behavior
- Inability to sit still
- Clenching fists
- Problems focusing
It is essentially a very restless state. Agitation can be the result of being in a new environment, being uncomfortable, recovering from substance abuse and dependency, or having alcohol in the system. Though it can be very difficult to pinpoint the direct source of agitation, some studies have found a strong correlation between substance dependence and agitation.
What is Depression?
Depression has varying levels of severity. It is the most common mental illness in the United States, and over 17.3 million adults reported experiencing at least one depressive episode in 2017. Depression often comes with persistent feelings of sadness or loss of interest in activities you once found enjoyable. The causes of depression are very diverse and can be difficult to accurately identify. However, there have been strong ties found between depression and substance abuse. Typically, individuals consume drugs as a means of altering their state of mind or avoiding their own reality. When not under the influence and faced with the facts of their life, people with depression can come face to face with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Mental illness coupled with substance use disorders are collectively referred to as co-occurring disorders, and a reported 8.5 million adults dealt with some form of a co-occurring disorder in 2017.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad
- Hating life
- Loss of interest in activities
- Changes in appetite
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feelings of guilt
- Suicidal thoughts
Depression does not develop the same way for everyone, but it does tend to follow certain patterns. Often, the disease progresses slowly over time. However, sudden tragic events can also trigger it, such as physical trauma or the death of a loved one. Depression is a curable illness, but overcoming it is more likely with personal attention from a trained professional. If depression is left untreated, it can cause long term emotional damage and even lead to suicide.
What is a Co-Ocurring Disorder?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines Dual Diagnosis (or co-occurring disorder) as the simultaneous experience of substance abuse disorders and mental illness. Either the mental illness or substance use disorder can develop first and cause the other disease to appear. Dual diagnosis can create a vicious cycle of bad habits. Some people choose to get high as a way of avoiding their depression, for example. If the depression is never truly treated, they may simply resort to drugs each time their depression symptoms flare up. With enough use, this “self medication” becomes a habit, causing a recurring cycle of depression and drug abuse. It can get out of hand very quickly and needs to be treated by a mental health professional.
Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide. Suicide on its own is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and 2nd leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34. In 2018, an estimated 48,000 people committed suicide in the US alone. Given that depression is a major catalyst for suicide, emphasis should be placed on treatment. An estimated two thirds of individuals suffering from depression do not seek treatment.
Depression is something many people are familiar with. However, it is not an end state. Treatment, recovery and happiness are absolutely achievable. Changing lifestyle habits can be an effective way of dealing with depression, though managing symptoms does not solve the problem. In order to cure the illness, you have to address the root causes, rather than just treat symptoms. Getting help from a professional who can help address the causes of depression and agitation can increase your chances of recovery. If you or someone you know has been suffering from agitated depression and substance abuse, contact us today so we can help on your road to recovery.