One of the things that addiction has in common with depression is the tendency for a person to feel that they have no control or are caught in a cycle that they can’t escape. For someone who has seen their level of depression escalates they may feel overwhelmed by the lack of control that they have over their emotions. In the same way that a person with addiction loses the ability to curtail their own substance abuse, someone with depression can no longer find ways to feel happy or stabilize their emotions.
Depression often causes people to lose control over their thoughts which can be incessantly negative in spite of efforts to turn them around. Having no control is a problem that characterizes depression and addiction especially when both issues occur simultaneously.
Depression and “Learned Helplessness”
People who suffer from depression are often dealing with a learned sense of helplessness that comes from problems that they fear will repeat themselves. Bad relationships in the past, difficulties in childhood or negative events can make them feel as though they have no control over what will happen to them.
They may feel that the same issues will continue to occur over and over. The “learned helplessness” that people with depression experience can reduce their feelings of control and cause them to believe that they have few options to solve any given situation. Regaining a sense of internal control even if they have no external control can help people who are suffering from a feeling of helplessness in their depression.
People with addiction lose their sense of control as their substance abuse gets out of hand and this helplessness can contribute to developing depression as well. Having no control over thoughts and behavior is a problem that can destroy a person’s quality of life and make it hard for them to experience joy.
Coping Mechanisms and Internal Control
Someone with an addiction becomes completely incapable of managing their own behavior as their dependency takes over. Both people with depression and addiction fail to develop coping skills that help them to have more control over their own lives.
The depressed person lacks the ability to cultivate stability and lasting happiness because they cannot cope effectively with their negative emotions. The same problem can happen to an addict whose only way of dealing with problems is by turning to substance abuse.
When the two problems occur together it can complicate the issues even further as the person finds it harder and harder to gain control over their actions and emotions. In order to regain a sense of control for the person with a dual diagnosis, they will have to receive help for both their addiction and their depression.
Substance abuse is a type of coping mechanism that worsens depression and vice versa. Once a person enters recovery, they will need to regain internal control so that they do not get overwhelmed by their emotions, thoughts, or desires.
In recovery, people with depression and addiction can learn more effective coping mechanisms that help them handle situations that come up in their life. Instead of resorting to negative feelings and thoughts, they can gain a more positive outlook through the help of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Counseling and therapy can help people with depression learn to interpret things in ways that prevent their emotions from getting out of control. They can also learn skills that will allow them to resolve problems instead of feeling that they have no control over what happens to them.
People with addictions can begin to understand their own triggers and find ways to control their cravings. Regaining internal control and learning better coping mechanisms can be important to recovery especially when someone has a dual diagnosis.