Understanding Addiction and Mood Disorder Treatment Combined
Changes in mood – one’s emotional state – are a normal part of the human experience. But when people experience extreme and persistent moods that significantly affect how they view the world and how they function in daily life, this could be a sign of a mood disorder.
Of course, what is considered “normal” in terms of mood swings is somewhat subjective and open to personal opinion. For this reason, many people who have mood disorders are simply told that they’re “too emotional,” or that they need to “cheer up” or “get their act together.”
But for people with mood disorders, simply giving oneself a pep talk isn’t going to cut it. Although they may want to feel differently, they are unable to exercise control over their mood swings, and need outside help with managing their emotions.
Unfortunately, many people with mood disorders turn to substances like drugs or alcohol to help them manage their emotional state. While this may provide relief in the short term, it leads to addiction and all the dangers associated with substance abuse, without actually healing the mental disorder. In fact, addiction can worsen the symptoms of mood disorders.
Types of Mood Disorders
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) has split mood disorders into two main categories:
- Depressive disorders
- Bipolar disorders
Depressive and bipolar disorders usually occur naturally (often as a result of genetics). However, mood disorders can also be brought on by substances (such as psychoactive drugs) or by medical conditions that trigger a mood disorder.
Benzodiazepines – prescription medications used in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia – are often misused, which can lead to both addiction and a worsening of the mood disorder symptoms.
Symptoms of Mood Disorders
Mood disorders are particularly harmful because they disrupt the lives of both the afflicted person and the people around him or her. Extreme mood swings and over-the-top emotional reactions make it difficult for people with mood disorders to maintain relationships, keep jobs, and make and keep friends.
Because even the most well-meaning family and friends are unprepared to deal with handling loved ones with mood disorders, it’s important to seek professional diagnosis and treatment as soon as you suspect that a mood disorder may be a factor.
Here are some of the most common symptoms to look out for:
A depressed mood can include a wide range of emotions that add up to a negative outlook on life – emotions such as:
These feelings can be so intense that the person feels that life has no purpose or meaning, which is why those suffering from depression have a high risk of suicide.
Sometimes when a person talks of suicide, it can be difficult for the friend or family member to know if their loved one is seriously planning to take his or her own life, or is just “in a bad mood.” If this happens, take it seriously and enlist immediate professional help. Better safe than sorry.
No matter if the person claims they were just joking, it’s still an indication that a psychological evaluation is appropriate to determine what help your loved one might need. Even if you suspect the person is simply vying for attention or trying to manipulate your feelings, you should still get him or her professional help. Any talk of suicide is a cry for help in some form or another.
A person suffering from depression may also exhibit symptoms such as:
- Changes in eating habits – overeating or hardly eating anything
- Changes in sleeping habits – sleeping a great deal, or having difficulty falling or staying asleep
Mania is the polar opposite of depression – an overflowing of energy and optimism. Signs of a manic state include:
- Feelings of euphoria and extreme happiness
- Friendly, sociable and talkative
- High energy and enthusiasm
- Easily distracted, quickly moving from one thing to the next
- Little need for sleep
- Suddenly taking on lots of new projects or activities
- Engaging in risky or inadvisable activities on the spur of the moment
Psychosis refers to a disconnect from reality that leads to the symptoms that are stereotypically associated with “craziness,” including:
- Hallucinations – hearing and seeing things that aren’t really there
- Delusions – believing in something that isn’t true, often of a paranoid nature
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, hospitalization may be needed for the protection of the individual and/or the people around him or her.
The Relationship Between Addiction and Mood Disorders
Mood disorders are more common than you might think. The National Institute of Health estimates that 20 percent of the adult population in the U.S. will suffer from a mood disorder at some point in their lifetime. At any given point in time, around 9 percent of the U.S. adult population has a mood disorder, yet only 20 percent of those people are likely to receive professional treatment.
As a result, many people with mood disorders are left to struggle on their own, and sadly, many turn to addictive substances to manage as best they can.
Not only are the symptoms of addiction harmful by themselves, they can also make mood disorders worse. Addictive substances alter brain chemistry and throw off the body’s natural rhythms. This causes both physical and mental health to deteriorate even further.
For all of these reasons, it’s important to seek out professional treatment for both addiction and mood disorders the moment you identify (or even suspect) the problem. Even if you’re not 100 percent sure what your loved one is suffering from, it’s never too soon to seek out a diagnosis from a mental health professional.
Co-Occurring Addiction and Mood Disorder Treatment
Whether a mood disorder can be healed completely depends on the disorder and the individual circumstances. Even the mood disorders that recur over time (such as bipolar disorder) can be managed in order to minimize symptoms so that a person can live a relatively normal life.
An integrated treatment approach has been proven to be the most effective method in treating co-occurring addiction and mood disorders. In this approach, the same team provides treatment for both the substance use disorder and the mood disorder. This ensures that both disorders are treated properly and thoroughly.
Integrated treatment will:
- Address the psychological factors that led to addiction and/or to the mood disorder
- Help control the symptoms of the mood disorder
- Eliminate the drug or alcohol addiction
- Teach new habits and skills for managing stress and maintaining emotional balance
Techniques to Address Mood Disorders with Addiction
Psychotherapy is used to address the root causes of addiction, while cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be particularly effective in treating mood disorders. A variety of other treatment best practices can be utilized as well, customized to the needs of each particular client.
Medication may be used temporarily to stabilize the patient who is battling addiction withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, such as when bipolar disorder is present, medication may also be needed on an ongoing basis to manage the mood disorder in the long term. Whenever medication is necessary, it’s important to seek out prescription medication that is not addictive.
At Reflections Recovery Center, our staff is experienced in holistic treatment as well as traditional medicine, in order to give our clients the most options when it comes to healing from addiction and mood disorders. Our team can diagnose mood disorders and then customize a treatment plan that reflects the male client’s unique needs in recovery.