Legacy Healing Center Blog
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Mental health and substance abuse are often interconnected, creating a cycle of substance abuse that is difficult to break out of. Even changes in seasons can impact someone’s mental health, and seasonal affective disorder and addiction can go hand-in-hand. Some examples of the ways these issues can be connected include:
- A person who has undiagnosed psychiatric issues attempting to self-medicate, using substances like alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism to escape or control their condition.
- Using alcohol or drugs can cause latent mental health conditions to come out or make their symptoms worse.
- Using drugs and alcohol can push family and friends away, especially if you display mental health symptoms, which can trigger more substance use with less support from loved ones.
- Using drugs and alcohol can prevent you from developing “normal” coping mechanisms for your mental health issues, causing a psychological dependence on the substance as you depend on the drugs or alcohol to get you through social situations and to feel comfortable with yourself.
- Certain substances can interfere with medications prescribed to treat mental illnesses.
Having the co-occurring disorders of substance use disorder and a mental illness is difficult, but a dual diagnosis treatment program can help you address both issues simultaneously, using an integrated approach to addiction treatment that will get to the root of both problems.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a depressive disorder that comes during the darker winter months of the year. It is caused by a combination of genetic reasons, lack of sunlight, changes in melatonin secretion, serotonin levels and sleep patterns, and shifts in a person’s circadian rhythm. Seasonal affective disorder and addiction can occur when a person turns to drugs or alcohol to compensate for their mood swings as the weather changes.
Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Some signs that could lead to seasonal affective disorder and addiction in the winter months include:
- Feeling moody, hopeless, worthless, guilty, and depressed most of the day, almost every day
- Lacking energy, feeling sluggish
- Having sleep problems
- Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
- Having difficulty concentrating
Certain people also experience seasonal affective disorder and addiction symptoms during the onset of summer, and these people may lose their appetite and feel anxious and agitated. If you are experiencing these signs, you may want to speak with your doctor about your symptoms, especially if your thoughts turn to suicide. Turning to drugs and alcohol is not the answer when you feel low; it will only exacerbate your problems and cause more issues in the long run.
Tips for Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder Without Turning to Drugs and Alcohol
Seasonal affective disorder and addiction do not need to go hand-in-hand. There are ways to treat SAD without turning to drugs and alcohol like:
- Light therapy – special light boxes can provide the same benefits as natural light and help many people’s brain chemistry to change in a positive way.
- Medications – antidepressants are sometimes prescribed by doctors to help people deal with SAD.
- Psychotherapy – talk therapy can help you cope by changing behaviors and thoughts that make you feel worse and help you manage stress in a healthy way.
- Mind-body connection – activities like meditation, music or art therapy, yoga, or guided imagery can help many cope with SAD.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder
Customized dual diagnosis treatments are essential for those dealing with seasonal affective disorder and addiction. Dual diagnosis addresses the root of your addiction and your mental illness, which, many times, are the same issue or are interconnected in some way. Through an integrated program consisting of therapy, clinical care, and medication, these issues can be treated, ending the cycle, and leading to a more effective long-term solution.
At Legacy Healing, we provide a comprehensive, tailored dual diagnosis program that can help you stop using drugs and alcohol and get your mental health issues under control so that you can move on with your life and live the way you want to live. Contact us today at 888.534.2295 for more information about addiction treatment, drug detox, dual diagnosis, and the connection between seasonal affective disorder and addiction.