About 20 percent of Americans living with anxiety or depression have an alcohol or substance use disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Conversely, about 20 percent of those with an alcohol or substance use disorder also struggle with anxiety or depression.
A mental illness like depression can lead people down a treacherous path with drugs and alcohol. Those who do not seek professional assistance for mental illness often self-medicate with non-prescribed mind-altering substances. Coping with the symptoms of a mental health disorder is not easy. While there are healthy ways to manage psychological disorders, many are left to their own devices because they lack support.
A co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis is a common occurrence. In 2014, 20.2 million adults in the U.S. had a substance use disorder, and 7.9 million had co-occurring mental illnesses like depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH). Surveys show that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.
About 50% of people with severe mental illness are involved in substance use, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. The statistics above show the importance of treatment for mental health conditions. When people go without care, they are at significant risk of developing more issues; people living with untreated mental illness are also prone to suicidal ideation.
Mental illness is a public health crisis in the United States and abroad. Depression alone affects the lives of more than 300 million individuals and is the leading cause of disability globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports. It’s paramount that we fight harmful stigmas that prevent people from seeking treatment and remind those suffering that they are not alone.
National Depression Education and Awareness Month 2019
WHO points out that even though effective treatments exist for depression, fewer than half of those affected receive such care. In less-developed nations, fewer than 10 percent receive treatment. In the United States, people have far more opportunities to get the support they need; however, stigma and misunderstanding prevent men and women from accessing support services.
Earlier this month, we touched upon the importance of breaking down the barriers that prevent people from seeking treatment and finding recovery during Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). The mission to raise awareness about mental health must continue year-round to ensure that everyone can access care.
October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month; it’s a vital observance that dovetails nicely with MIAW. Once again, people working programs of recovery for behavioral and mental health disorders can affect change in the lives of others.
Taking the time to share valuable information about depression (i.e., signs, symptoms, and treatments) can show people that seeking help is a sign of strength. Nobody has to struggle with mental illness alone; right now, millions of Americans are working together to keep their conditions at bay. Support groups exist that provide men and women a forum to discuss the issues and their successes.
If you would like to observe National Depression Education and Awareness Month, then please use #DepressionAwareness when posting to social media. Every person in recovery has a story to tell, and every voice matters in the campaign to end the stigma of mental illness and promoting healing.
Colorado Dual Diagnosis Treatment
If you are one of the millions of adults living with addiction and co-occurring depression, then please reach out to NorthStar Transitions. Our staff includes highly trained alcohol and substance use disorder professionals, and a board-certified addiction psychiatrist as well.
Please call 303.625.6335 today to begin your journey of recovery.