Self-Medicating Depression and Anxiety
When a person suffers from any kind of mood disorder, it’s especially important to recognize the symptoms of self-medicating depression. Self-medicating depression or anxiety is never a good decision and can start a vicious cycle of abuse. The individual in this cycle may feel like their mood disorder is worsening as a result of the substances taken to medicate themselves.
Sources of Depression and Anxiety
The symptoms and triggers of depression are dramatically different, even though many people think they are similar in nature.
Depression is a recognized brain disorder. It causes a persistently depressed mood and a loss of interest in activities or people that a person used to enjoy. The person may spend a lot of time sleeping, engaged in passive activities like watching tv, and begin to isolate themselves from others.
Anxiety is also a brain disorder; but, unlike depression it is characterized by excessive feelings of worry, stress, and chaotic behavior. These fears can be strong enough to have a significant impact on a person’s life. As a result, the individual may skip work or school, and avoid social activities they once enjoyed.
Self-medicating Depression and Anxiety
Whether or not an anxious or depressed person gets professional treatment, they still stand a significant likelihood of alcohol or drug abuse. Symptoms of these disorders can be so severe that even the most “with-it” person may reach desperate measures to ease their pain. While people with depression gravitate towards uppers like cocaine and crystal meth, individuals with anxiety typically use towards alcohol and opiates. Either way, people who turn to self-medicating depression should seek professional help before the symptoms become overwhelming.
Prescription Medications as a Means of Self-medicating Depression
Prescription medication abuse is a huge issue in the U.S. From opiates to benzos, people are taking their prescriptions excessively or sharing pills with others. Second to alcohol and marijuana, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drugs by teens and people in their 20s and 30s.
People with mood disorders tend to reach for these kinds of solutions. They may not realize that too much of a good thing can be extremely bad and lead to a lifetime of addiction problems. When getting prescriptions for a mood disorder from your doctor, always make sure to talk to them about the dose, interactions, and what to do in case of a bad reaction.
Healthy Alternatives to Self-medication
Turning to alcohol or any kind of illegal drug to treat your mood disorder is not a smart decision. Here are some ideas to help you cope with anxiety and depression.
- Try meditation. A meditation practice can help a person become mindful and focus on the here and now. People with mood disorders tend to spend a lot of time focusing on the past or present. Instead, they should refocus on the present.
- Pay attention to your breath. One of the best things a person can do to calm their entire central nervous system is to focus on their breathing, counting each breath as you do so. Within five breaths you should begin to feel way more at ease.
- Get outside. Getting into the sunshine and fresh air does wonders for a depressed or anxious person. Even if it is only taking a short walk around your neighborhood, try to make it a point each day.
- Exercise. Burning off the extra energy you have inside means there is none left for worrying. Additionally, getting a daily dose of physical activity can help your spirits tremendously.
- Eat healthy. Americans tend to live off of the Standard American Diet, whose acronym is “SAD” for a reason. This diet is high in fatty animal protein and low in nutritious food like fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Increase the amount of healthy foods in your diet, and consequentially, you’ll feel more energetic.
- Find a new hobby. Keep your hands busy. If you focus less on your depression and anxiety and more on the things you enjoy, you’ll feel happier.
- Start writing. Journaling is a great hobby for people with mood disorders because it helps get your worries out in the open, no longer pent up inside.
Speak with a Professional about your Mental Health
Prescription drugs help people every day — just make sure you are mindful of the recommended dose. Always make sure to talk to your doctor about any changes you intend on making. If your course of treatment becomes problematic or if other drugs start to come into the picture, tell your doctor so he can reevaluate your situation.