The process of getting through time-and-effort-
consuming treatment ends with its final stage. Recovery opens the door into the world of sobriety, cleanness and ability to control one’s own life out of addiction. However, this is also a period that poses certain challenges and problems. Living sober life where there is no place for self-medication with toxic substances that create false reality makes a person to cope with everything themselves.
Very often it results into depression.
Depression is not just a ‘bad mood’ that would quickly disappear if one would just give it an effort. This is a serious medical condition caused by changes in brain biochemistry and must be treated accordingly. Often underlying depression is the real reason people turn to alcohol and drug abuse at all. And the odds of falling into depression are high for newly recovered whether it has indeed been the reason of the addiction or not.
Though the symptoms of depression may significantly vary in their severity, overall it can have an extremely negative effect on some or all aspects of one’s life. So, if a person experiences sleeping or eating problems, lack of energy, finds no enjoyment in things one previously did, feels pessimistic about the future, gets irritated easily, is overwhelmed by shame or guilt, cannot concentrate or memorize things, is having unexplained body aches or suicidal thoughts, this is a loud alert signal.
There is nowadays no known reliable way to prevent depression from happening during one’s recovery. But it is perfectly possible to keep track of oneself to start treating it as soon as there are any signs of it. Leaving depression untreated does increase risk of relapse and clouds a person’s judgment so one can’t see numerous positive sides of living in recovery.
In order to start treating depression occurring in recovery as soon as possible, one has to keep in mind a number of measures.
- Do learn about the symptoms of depression and pay attention to one’s psychological and physical state. To make it easier, it is possible to even have them written down and go through the list from time to time to make sure alarms won’t be considered insignificant and get unnoticed.
- Do not blame yourself for having depression. Brain biochemistry is pretty much out of our control, especially when it has been shaken by addiction. So there is actually nothing to be blamed for.
- Do surround yourself with supportive people. Those who recognize one’s state and admit that it has to be treated are the right ones. People who deny depression, underestimate its gravity and depreciate one’s experience by saying that one should ‘just get over it’ will do much more harm than good, so no need to have them around.
- Do go see a doctor. Depression should be confirmed by a specialist who will also prescribe treatment. Depending on severity of the state it can be pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy or some other thing that can be of some help in one’s particular case.
- Do follow the treatment plan and other recommendations given by doctors. After all, isn’t it a pity to not enjoy life after the efforts it has taken to overcome addiction and reach recovery stage?
It is important to notice that in a short period after recovery all people experience some of the things like anxiety, insomnia, nausea, sweating, shaking etc. Such a state is called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) and is normally present during the first month of recovery. Though, however, in some cases it may last up to years. The danger here is that it could be mixed up with depression easily, and within such a short time intervention with medication is highly undesirable.
This condition is quite a tricky one to distinguish from real depression; therefore it is absolutely necessary to stay in touch with doctors during one’s recovery period.