What is Depression?

Like anxiety, untreated depression can result in a host of serious health issues including substance misuse.

Everyone experiences feelings of sadness from time to time as a normal response to life’s ups and downs. Some people experience these feelings without let up for long periods, sometimes months or years. This is a symptom of depression.

According to the respected mental health organisation, beyondblue:

“Depression affects how people feel about themselves. They may lose interest in work, hobbies and doing things they normally enjoy. They may lack energy, have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual. Some people feel irritable and some find it hard to concentrate. Depression makes life more difficult to manage from day to day.”

Sometimes there is no apparent reason for these feelings. Depression is a serious illness which, untreated can have devastating results for the person suffering depression and for people with whom they come in contact.

Research shows that a high proportion of  problem alcohol or drug users self-medicate for anxiety, depression and or post traumatic stress disorder by misusing alcohol and/or drugs. (Source: Anxiety and Depression Association of America).

There are many theories about why people use substances. One of the most widely accepted is the self-medication hypothesis. This suggests that alcohol and other drug use is an attempt to relieve symptoms of an underlying disorder or condition, such as depression, stress or anxiety.

One of those primarily credited for developing the self-medication hypothesis is Dr Edward J. Khantzian, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard University. Dr Khantzian believes that an underlying disorder or condition combined with poor coping skills leads to substance misuse. In this case, substance use becomes a coping skill. This avoidant behaviour promotes escapism, acting out on the brain’s biological wiring to avoid pain and seek pleasure.

The Buttery Private residential program addresses depression and anxiety and their association with substance misuse. Treatments are tailored to address individual needs. However treatment for depression at The Buttery Private involves all or some of the following: rest and relaxation, a focus on diet, nutrition, supplements and exercise combined with mindfulness training and a structured counselling program focused on developing a sense of hope and joy.

If you are feeling depressed and have thoughts of self-harm you should contact an emergency counselling service now:

Lifeline 13 11 14