Dual Diagnosis refers to a diagnosis of two separate problems; mood disorders as well as substance abuse. A person with a dual diagnosis has two separate illnesses that must be treated. The problem with dual diagnosis is not knowing whether or not a person’s symptoms is related to the substances or related to the mood disorders. Mood disorders a lot of times lead people to substance abuse. Depression and bipolar disorder are the more common mood disorders diagnosed in dual diagnosis. There is hope. Treatment for dual diagnosis is available.
Mood disorders can be closely associated with substance abuse. Nearly one-third of people with mental illness also partake in substance abuse. Depression leads a person to look for relief. Many depressed people may go to drinking as their form of coping with their feelings. The drinking continues to spiral out of control until it becomes an abusive habit. Bipolar disorder is associated with emotional highs and lows. They go through phases of manic and depression. The manic phases give them high energy and they end up needing less sleep. It is hard for them to slow down because their mind is racing. At times, alcohol helps them calm down and relax. They can also be very irritable. The depressive phase causes them to feel very sad. They have no motivation and no desire to do anything. Their energy level is low. Either phase may last for weeks or months. In the depressive phase of bipolar disorder, a person is more likely to involve themselves in drugs and alcohol. It makes them feel better sometimes.
Substance abuse and mood disorders do not always happen at the same time. Sometimes the mood disorder is diagnosed first and other times substance abuse is diagnosed first. It may seem like the substances help the situation but in fact, it makes mood disorders worse. Unfortunately, mood disorders can be masked by substance abuse. People use substances as a way to self-medicate. Self-medication is not a good way to treat your symptoms. Substances do not only affect your mood disorder, but it also affects your body. Your health will eventually begin to deteriorate as a result. Alcohol and drugs damage your organs, especially the liver. Having physical health problems on top of mental health problems is not good.
Dual diagnosis is when substance abuse and mood disorders occur at the same time; therefore, there are no real symptoms of dual diagnosis. The symptoms are usually related to the mood disorder. The use of substances is not something that you have to figure out. Either you are using substances, or you are not. There are symptoms for you to be aware of if you think your family member is suffering from substance abuse.
- Family withdrawal
- Behavior changes
- Loss of control
- Risky behavior
Other symptoms like feeling withdrawal symptoms when you’re not taking the substance or risking things to get a substance are signs that you have developed an addiction to a substance from constant abuse.
But if you are experiencing a lot of mood swings, you may have a mood disorder. There are a few signs of mood disorders.
We all experience moments where we are sad. When you are experiencing constant sadness and crying all the time for no reason, you could be depressed. Heightened irritability and anger over minor things are other symptoms of mood disorders. Heightened worry and anxiety characterize mood disorders. You may also become very indifferent and seem not to care about life at all. You no longer desire to socialize or be in group settings and in worst case scenarios you think about suicide or harming yourself. Mood disorders and substance abuse can be treated.
At times, the doctor has to figure out whether or not you are using substances. That is normally done with a drug test. Many people using substances do not tell their doctor. Not being completely honest with your doctors make diagnosis and treatment more difficult. Treatment for substance abuse may require therapy. Doing therapy helps in the process of recovery. Normally a treatment center is the best form of therapy. Being in a place where you can be monitored makes treatment more effective. Depending on the drug, they will have to wean you off, especially if your body has become dependent on it. Treatment for the mood disorder may happen simultaneously. Most mood disorders require medication as a form of treatment. Medications may take a while to work effectively, but once it does, you begin to see improvement. Therapy can also be used to help with mood disorders. Talking to someone about your symptoms helps you get advice on how to deal with them.
Dual diagnosis is not one illness but two. Suffering from dual diagnosis can have negative effects on your health. When you are dealing with uncontrolled mood disorders, you may also fall into substance abuse. The best thing is to get control of your mental health. Make sure you take all the required medications. Anytime you feel yourself having episodes of depression or manic, seek immediate help. Do not try to self-medicate with substances. Do not let dual diagnosis destroy your life. There is treatment available for you. Get the help you need.
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