Substance Abuse and Mental Health
During substance abuse recovery, one might discover an underlying mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety. This occurs because the substance use masked the symptoms of the mental health problem. Anxiety is relieved through drinking alcohol and depression is non-existent due to stimulant use.
In substance abuse recovery, you might find that your mental health is just as important as your physical health and therefore requires attention. Your mental health encompasses so much of who you are, the thoughts you have, and the feelings you experience. Recovery is hard by itself; however, if you have anxiety or depression as well, you will want to address these at some point.
Sometimes it is difficult to know whether the depression and anxiety are due to recovering from substance abuse or if they were there to begin with. Many people experience depression and anxiety during recovery because they are learning new ways of coping with their substance use disorder and new ways of living without substances. The individual no longer has alcohol or drugs to hide any other problems that might be present. How can you be sure that your mental health problems are not just a result of alcohol and drugs no longer being a part of your life physically or psychologically.
Most people in recovery experience some depression and anxiety, which is normal and treatable. The following are a few guidelines that may indicate you might need additional support with depression and anxiety during recovery.
- You are sleeping more than usual.
- You have insomnia.
- You are not eating, or you feel hungry all the time.
- You have changes to your mood such as excessive periods of sadness, crying spells, irritability, anger, frustration, that is out of character for you.
- You feel keyed up or restless most of the day.
- You have no interest in doing the things you once enjoyed.
- You find yourself not being social or withdrawing from family and friends.
- You have no energy and you lack focus.
- You have difficulty making decisions.
- You neglect personal hygiene.
- You mind is a whirlwind of intrusive thoughts that you simply cannot control.
Recovery from substance abuse is tough but if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms that seem to last for more than a few weeks, you might want to seek professional counseling. Many times, these issues are a result of recovering from substance abuse; however, often they are not.