Handling Depression After Rehab

Mental illnesses like depression are often diagnosed alongside addictions, and for many people, it can be difficult to manage, especially after undergoing rehabilitation. Asking which one came first may not seem relevant because both depression and addiction are diseases that require long-term treatment.

Patients without co-occurring depression can develop depressed feelings in the weeks following their completion of addiction treatment. It can increase their risk of relapse which is why it’s important to have a plan in place so that people who find themselves in this situation know what to do. Handling depression after rehab may feel daunting, but it is definitely not impossible. Here’s how to do so from one of the leading rehabs in Bali.

What happens to your brain when you stop self-medication

When you undergo detox, you are specifically removing the maladaptive self-medication on which you came to depend on. It can feel overwhelming at times and you may find it difficult at first after your rehab. Furthermore, the longer you self-medicated with alcohol or other drugs, the harder it is for your brain’s reward system to start functioning normally again.

It is no surprise that the time immediately following completion of rehab that patients develop depressing moods. In some cases, those feelings can develop into full-blown clinical depression. The good news is that there are safer and more effective treatments for depression today than we’ve previously known.

How depression affects addiction recovery

Having depression whilst recovering can impact a patient’s life in many ways. The person might feel too tired or unmotivated to provide proper self-care or they may find it difficult going to 12-step meetings or fulfilling their daily responsibilities in general.

In these instances, the person is at a greater risk of relapse, so it is important to recognise what is going on and to take responsibility for putting their recovery back on track. There are many practical steps to circumvent this and those steps involve:

1. Using your support network early on in your recovery

Your support network, including your 12-step sponsor (if you have one), is there to help you get past this vulnerable stage in your life so so reach out to them as much as you can. As hard it may be to pick yourself up and go to a meeting, it should be in your best interest to do so. At the very least, attending an online meeting can do wonders for your recovery if you can’t physically attend one.

If you have been prescribed medication, take it exactly as prescribed. Try not to isolate yourself as much as possible and also avoid known triggers. Finally, practice self-care to the best of your abilities starting with your diet. Eat healthy foods on a regular basis and get enough rest, preferably 8 hours a day. Take care of basic hygiene and remind yourself that you’re fighting the good fight. Sticking to healthy routines every day can make a massive difference in your recovery and will allow you to minimise your risk of relapse.

2. Be open to medical treatment for depression

If you are a couple of weeks out from your rehab the depressive symptoms aren’t getting any better, it’s best to have a talk with your specialist regarding treatment options for depression. Treatment for clinical depression is far better than it was before, and you can rest assured by the fact that many of the medications used for depression are safe, effective, and non-addictive.

Do note that medications for depression may take a couple of weeks before it takes effect, so don’t feel like you have “failed” if your meds don’t seem to work after only a few days. However, if they do not seem to be effective after more than a month, then it’s definitely worth bringing to your physician’s attention. 

Depression treatment can be quite complex in that a medication that works great for one patient may not work at all for another, and vice versa. Sometimes it takes a while to get the right medication at the right dosage so do not lose hope and have patience in your recovery.

It is no surprise that depression in addiction recovery is common. In many cases, it goes away on its own as the brain regains its ability to function normally. However, there are a few instances where depression does not resolve on its own. If this happens, it’s worth discussing things with your addiction specialist regarding depression treatment. Remember that depression is not a character flaw or lack of willpower, but is a distinct medical condition that can be successfully addressed.

If you have made it through treatment to long-term addiction recovery, you are strong and have done something not everyone can do. Do not allow depression to undo all your hard work because depression can be treated successfully. If you have questions about addiction recovery, we encourage you to contact us today.

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