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According to the World Health Organization, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression across the globe; that’s about 5% of the entire population. In the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the depression rate to be closer to 10%. Think about that – for every ten people you know, on average, at least one suffers from depression. 

Do you really know for sure whether any of your friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, neighbors, or any of the people in your life suffer from depression? Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide in the US, and suicide claims 34,000 lives in this country each year.

Depression and substance abuse can arise from the same sources. Research shows a number of connections between depression and substance abuse. Shared brain regions, such as those known to handle stress responses, are affected by both substance abuse and certain mental disorders. Genetic factors can predispose a person to be more susceptible to certain mental conditions and addictions. Genetic factors make it more likely that one condition will occur once the other has appeared — for example, alcoholism sparked by a bout of depression. Environmental factors such as stress or trauma are known to prompt both depression and substance abuse. Even brain developmental issues can lead a child to depression or substance abuse later in life. Early drug use is known to harm brain development and make later mental illness more likely. The reverse also is true: Early mental health problems can increase the chances of later drug or alcohol abuse.

People dealing with depression may try to self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol. Depression often causes people to drink, which usually only makes matters worse. By trying to treat their depression with alcohol, people fail to realize that alcohol itself is a depressant, and only serves to intensify their depression. The same problem goes for drugs. People will often misidentify their depression as some sort of down feeling and get in the habit of taking uppers as a sort of counterbalance.

It’s important to take depression seriously. Aside from the difficulties and challenges it poses with the recovery process, it is without a doubt one of the most unpredictable, volatile, and often overlooked wild cards in the human experience. On average, one in ten people in this country is fighting some level of depression. Whether it be someone you love, someone you know, or even you yourself… It is important to know that you’re not alone. There are over 10,000 drug addiction treatment facilities in the US that offer counseling, behavioral therapy, medication, and case management to those suffering from substance abuse and depression. Not all recovery programs involve inpatient stays. Some programs involve daily attendance and participation in group programs such as Narcotics Anonymous. There are many options to best fit your needs. Residential or long-term programs, Outpatient rehab, Group support, Individual therapy… Getting help isn’t a burden, it’s regaining control of your life.

If you should ever find yourself needing to talk to someone; whether it be about substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, surviving abuse, depression, mental or physical illness, or even loneliness – Please call the trained professionals at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Your call is free and confidential.

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