How does one proceed with overcoming their addiction when they’re extremely depressed?
If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, you may be wondering:
- Are you depressed because of your addiction?
- Are you engaging in an addiction because you’re depressed?
- Are you clinically depressed? Overwhelming Depression?
Are you experiencing this cycle?
Addiction in teenagers
We had a teenage client, who was addicted to marijuana. He was smoking a lot. Essentially, he was flooding his serotonin receptors because he came from a family where depression was prevalent in the entire family system.
Teenagers, sometimes they’re smoking because it’s just the ‘in’ thing to do. But if they’re not producing enough serotonin, all of a sudden it becomes this hugely addictive fix that their brain is literally look at as this miracle.
Well, what happens is they develop an addiction and it starts just destroying. It starts destroying their memory receptors. It starts destroying other parts of their brain because of the extreme use, and it can become devastating.
So this individual came into my office and the parents were just not being kind to this young man because they were so tired of his addiction and when we found out that their whole family was on antidepressants, and he wasn’t, it was like this breakthrough and they were like,
“Oh my gosh. He is self-medicating to try to process that depression and to try to fix that depression.”
Once they went to a doctor, got multiple opinions, and they found a solution that worked to help his serotonin levels, it became – not easy, because he was addicted at that point – but it became more manageable for him to really have a desire to get on top of his addiction.
Struggling With Depression
And so when someone is struggling with depression, it’s one thing to say,
“Hey, you know go journal and exercise and communicate with people daily and you won’t be depressed”.
But when someone’s depressed, they don’t feel like getting out of that pit in the first place. It’s a really hard thing.
I really commend individuals with clinical depression who take those hard steps to gain sobriety. When someone with depression makes the painful commitment to get sober, although it’s a short-term pain, with long-term benefits; that is an amazing person.
Using a drug of your choice, gives you short-term benefits but long-term and often devastating emotional consequences.
It’s almost like saying,
“I am going to go through pain temporarily and I accept this. I surrender to this fact that I might even be a little bit more depressed.”
Who made the rule that says we can’t be depressed as human beings? That depression makes us bad, terrible people?
Most of us experience some kind of depression in our lives; whether it’s due to grief because of loss, loss of job; whether we’re just not chemically balanced, or as we age some people stop producing as much serotonin or dopamine.
Most people will go through some kind of depression.
Medication for Depression
Accepting that depression is a normal part of life is often a step in finding the courage to go find additional steps to go through the healing process or find a medication, or find a natural solution or find the drive and the desire to really go through those painful processes of withdrawal within an addiction.
And inevitably, as we get sober, our neural receptors will begin to balance again. And as they begin to balance, depression has a tendency to reduce. But when someone’s in a deep dark pit of depression, the limbic system is screaming at them in this cycle, ‘Use to feel temporary numbness to numb the pain!’ but the problem is, it’s messing up those neural receptors in an unsustainable way, and so it contributes to deeper depression.
Getting Out of the Dark Pit
Getting out of that dark pit can be a very difficult thing and for individuals who are struggling with major depressive disorder, where it’s been going on for a long, long time and you just have not felt like associating with people or really getting out of your bed or going into work and it’s been going on for a long time, go get some help from a licensed therapist.
You know, do that favor for yourself because you deserve it, you deserve to be healthy. I encourage you to pull out of that shame space that says, ‘Well, I’m not good enough so I deserve to be in this place because look at all the terrible things I’ve done.’ There is not a single person that doesn’t deserve to go through a healing process and be happy.
You deserve it. I deserve it. We all deserve to do everything within our power to be happy. No matter how dark that pit has gotten. There is ability to redeem and to heal and to go through that process and to be happier in our lives.
I’ve seen people in the darkest of the dregs who have done behaviors that you might look at and say, ‘Well they don’t deserve to be happy!’ But they’re able to go through healing and although they can’t change the past, they can set a brighter path for their future.
Getting counseling for depression helps you find meaning and purpose to your life. You are wanted and needed.
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