Treatment for depression often involves some kind of antidepressant medication. These medications can help to modify a person’s brain chemistry in order to stabilize moods. Antidepressants are generally not considered addictive, and they are unlikely to be abused. This is especially helpful when treating a person with concurrent depression and alcoholism, as those with substance use disorders are more apt to attempt to abuse medications.
Some initial effects of antidepressant medications can be experienced rather quickly, usually within a week or two, but their full effect usually takes months to take hold. Most doctors instruct patients to continue taking antidepressants for months even after the depression symptoms have subsided completely. If a person only takes an antidepressant for a few weeks, it’s tough to ascertain whether the medication was a good fit.
While medication can be crucial in the treatment of depression, it doesn’t act as a cure. Medication should be used in conjunction with therapy to address underlying issues, as well as lifestyle changes, that may contribute to depression. Talk therapy can help individuals to develop better habits that encourage balance, according to APA. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an extremely effective form of psychotherapy, and it involves solving problems by modifying dysfunctional thinking and behavior.
CBT has also proven very effective in the treatment of alcohol use disorders, making it a great tool for those suffering from both AUD and depression. CBT is often used as a method to prevent relapse in people with alcohol problems. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), CBT teaches individual skills that can help them with problematic behavior. It offers client coping skills and includes the exploration of consequences related to addiction. This strategy attempts to anticipate problems before they happen and prepares an individual with plans on how to react when issues do arise. The skills learned in CBT stay with a person even after they leave treatment, making it an effective tool for long-term recovery.
While either alcoholism or depression can be extremely difficult on a person, experiencing both conditions concurrently can be particularly troubling and often results in significantly worse outcomes. Due to the common co-occurrence of depression and alcohol abuse, many addiction treatment facilities are equipped to treat both disorders simultaneously. This approach of integrated treatment is the most effective way to achieve a recovery on all fronts.