Co-Occuring Mental Health Conditions

Mental health problems are not uncommon. About 20% of all American adults suffer from some kind of mental health issue, and about 5% have serious problems. These problems can affect job performance, relationships, and the quality of life. They can also have a negative impact on physical health. People with mental health problems are 40% more likely to develop cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. They also have a higher unemployment rate and are twice as likely to drop out of school. Depression is perhaps the most common mental illness, and it comes in many forms. Not all of them are the deeply depressed, suicidal types that most people think of.

Co-Occuring Mental Health Conditions

High-Functioning Depression

One of the most common types of depression is persistent depressive disorder, or dysthymia. This is a high-functioning type of depression because people who have it generally get on with their lives, working, interacting with others, and showing subtle symptoms. For this reason, it can be difficult to diagnose. It can last for months or even years, and the sufferer may not be aware of it. Although considered a mild form of depression, dysthymia should not be ignored as it can be debilitating. It is therefore essential to know the symptoms.

  • Lethargy – Lack of energy and motivation to accomplish even the most basic of tasks.
  • Anhedonia – This is the inability to find pleasure in anything, even things the person normally enjoys.
  • Changes in sleep – Insomnia or taking long naps and sleeping more than normal.
  • Loss of interest – Dysthymia frequently decreases interest in hobbies and activities that the sufferer normally enjoys engaging in.
  • Changes in appetite – This may take the form of overeating or loss of appetite and eating less than normal.

Experiencing any of these symptoms especially if they occur for extended periods should not be ignored. Even if you seem to be functioning acceptably in your life’s activities, seek help.

As with other forms of depression, dysthymia is often accompanied by one or more other mental health problems. It can, in fact, be the cause of these. 

Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions

When a person is suffering from more than one problem, it’s called a co-occurring mental health condition. Depression, including dysthymia, often leads to addictions of various kinds. People often self-medicate, even if they are unaware of doing so, and end up addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Statistics show that 1 in 3 people with a substance abuse problem are also suffering from some form of depression. This leads to a cycle of depression and addiction. The sufferer seeks to lift themselves from depression by using a substance to create a feeling of euphoria. Eventually, it wears off, and the depression returns, often in a more severe form. The sufferer again seeks relief from the preferred substance. This cycle continues, and the sufferer’s mental and physical health declines.

Proper Treatment

When depression and addiction are co-occurring mental health conditions, both must be treated. Seeking counseling for a substance addiction will not be effective if the depression is not also treated. The conditions that cause the addiction will continually bring it back. If only one problem is to be treated at a time, depression should be dealt with first as it is the root of the addiction. Once depression can be successfully managed, the addiction can then also be treated, allowing the sufferer to experience good mental health.

Many people suffer from some kind of mental health disorder, and depression is common. It can lead to other problems such as addiction and the two spur each other on in a never-ending cycle. If you suffer from depression, even a mild form such as dysthymia, seek help. If you have an addiction, that should also be treated, but do not ignore the depression. 

In Conclusion

Depression is a common mental health disorder that can lead to other problems, such as addiction. If you suffer from depression, even a mild form such as dysthymia, seek help. If you have an addiction, that should also be treated but do not ignore the depression. Co-occurring mental health conditions must be treated together for successful recovery.

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